Iran football clubs reach compromise with AFC over relocation of Asian Champions League matches to UAE

The Associated Press

Kuala Lumpur: Iranian football clubs reached a compromise with Asian Champions League organizers on Thursday to avoid a threatened boycott over security concerns after a plane crash.

The Asian Football Confederation said it hosted club officials from Iran on Thursday and agreed how to stage three rounds of group-stage games in February and March.

Iran's football federation had warned it would remove its four clubs from the 2020 competition if they were banned from hosting international matches. Some countries have issued travel warnings after a Ukrainian passenger jet was mistakenly shot down near Tehran this month.

The AFC said any Iranian club's home games in the first half of the group stage would be rescheduled as away games "to allow time to reassess the security concerns in the country."

The change means Persepolis hosting Sharjah on 18 February is now flipped to an away game in the United Arab Emirates.

Sepahan's home game on 11 February against a playoff winner yet to be decided will be an away game in the UAE or Uzbekistan.

The compromise avoids forcing both clubs to play "home" games in a neutral country. However, both teams also have home games scheduled against Saudi Arabian opponents which could yet be played in a third country due to diplomatic ties being cut.

The AFC confirmed Iran's two other Champions League teams, Shahr Khodro and Esteghlal, have agreed to play preliminary games in the UAE on Saturday.

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