Sports

Clubs say Iran safe to host AFC Champions League

Two Iranian clubs have said it is safe to host games against foreign teams in the country after its football federation claimed the Asian Football Confederation had issued a ban.

Persepolis and Esteghlal are two of Iran’s four teams in the AFC Champions League and insisted they were in the “safest country in the Middle East”.

Football’s governing body in Iran said the AFC wants ties hosted by its teams to be at neutral venues.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian football federation said it would announce a “final position” in the “following days”.

Iran has four teams – Persepolis, Esteghlal, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro – in the AFC Champions League, and they are expected to be consulted on Saturday.

Before the meeting, Persepolis chief executive Mohammad Hassan Ansarifard told the Mehr news agency the club will “certainly not participate” in the new Champions League season “if they insist on their decision”.

Amir Mehdi Alavi, a spokesman for the Iranian football federation, said: “Iran has the full readiness to host teams and has proven this repeatedly in recent years.”

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