Iran says it′s banned from hosting international football matches | News | DW | 17.01.2020
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Iran says it's banned from hosting international football matches

Iran's football federation has said it must hold all games in a third country. It was still unclear whether the decision would affect the national team's qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

Iran's football federation said Friday it has been banned from hosting international matches on Iranian soil.

The federation said it received a letter from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that all matches involving Iranian teams would have to be held in a third country.

The ban comes just one week after Iran's Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight on January 8, before admitting three days later amid mounting evidence that the downing was unintentional. All 176 passengers and crew, mostly Iranians and Canadians, were killed in the downing.

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Iranian football officials subsequently held an emergency meeting, and major football clubs within the country have said they will not accept the decision.

The AFC reasoned that the games must be held on neutral ground for security reasons. However, it did not provide more specific reasons for the move. It is also unclear whether the decision would also affect the national team's next qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

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The Iranian federation spokesman said Iran is prepared to host foreign teams and has guaranteed match security to the AFC, urging it to reject any contrary accusations.

"Iran has the full readiness to host teams and has proven this repeatedly in recent years," wrote Amir Mehdi Alavi on the federation's website.

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Last season, Iranian teams played Saudi teams in the United Arab Emirates, because Saudi Arabia and Iran severed diplomatic relations with each other in 2016.

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lc/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)