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Iranian FA take plea to FIFA chief Infantino


Berlin (AFP) – The president of the Iranian FA has reportedly flown to meet with FIFA president Gianni Infantino to urge him to intervene in a politically-charged Asian Champions League game.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have affected the forthcoming match between Tehran-based Esteghlal and Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.

The teams are due to meet in the group stages, which start next week, but Iran and Saudi Arabia have had no diplomatic relations since an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran in 2016.

Saudi Arabia has not wanted its teams to play in Iran. Tehran, on the other hand, has opposed playing games in neutral venues.

In the face of political pressure from both sides, the Asian Football Confederation have seemingly wavered, their positon complicated by more recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side and Qatar.

Esteghlal, led by German coach Winfried Schaefer, opted to host their game in Qatar on February 20 with Al-Hilal choosing Kuwait as hosts on April 16.

However, the Iranian team’s choice has been vetoed by Asian football’s governing body AFC, who insist the match be moved from Qatar to Oman with no opportunity to find an alternative venue.

AFP’s German subsidiary SID report that Iranian FA boss Mehdi Taj intends to put the matter to Infantino personally in the hope FIFA will intervene.

The Iranian FA could not be reached for comment.

Esteghlal, who also face Al Rayyan of Qatar and Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in Group D, boosted their squad with the signing of Senegal striker Mame Baba Thiam, it was announced on Thursday.

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