Al-Ittihad makes bold exit from Sepahan stadium, protests presence of political signs

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Saudi Gazette report

ISFAHAN โ€” In a significant turn of events, Al-Ittihad Saudi football team staged a departure from Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium in Isfahan, Iran, citing objections to certain violations and the failure to adhere to Asian Football Confederation regulations.

The Saudi club formally requested the match observer to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements ahead of their scheduled match against the Sepahan Iranian team on Monday.

Insiders revealed that the decision to cancel the match stemmed from the host club’s non-compliance with the regulations stipulated by the Asian Football Confederation.

Delving into the details, the Al-Ittihad team refrained from entering the match stadium for warm-up exercises, allowing half an hour to elapse beyond the scheduled start time before formally deciding against participation.

The match was canceled, while the players of Sepahan Iranian team briefly took to the field to acknowledge their fans before departing.

Local media reported that the Al-Ittihad Saudi team’s departure was prompted by the presence of a statue of Qassem Soleimani and other political banners in the field.

The club, backed by the Saudi Football Federation, took all necessary legal precautions prior to reaching this decision.

Saudi news outlets Al-Ekhbariya reported that the Al-Ittihad delegation left the stadium directly to the airport to return to Saudi Arabia, and shared a brief video capturing the team’s exit from Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium.

This match, slated as part of the second round of the group stage in the AFC Champions League, witnessed Al-Ittihad entering in the second position in Group C with three points, while Sepahan Iranian team held the third position with one point.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, the Asian Football Confederation announced that AFC Champions League 2023/24 Group C match between Sepahan FC and Al Ittihad FC, scheduled at Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium, was canceled due to unanticipated and unforeseen circumstances.

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The AFC emphasized its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all involved parties and announced that the matter would be referred to the relevant committees for further investigation and resolution.

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