AFC awards Al-Ittihad a 3-0 win against Sepahan in Asian Champions League
RIYADH— The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has officially declared Saudi club Al-Ittihad the victor in their Asian Champions League match against Iran's Sepahan FC, with a final score of 3-0. The match, originally scheduled for October 2, 2023, was canceled due to objections from Al-Ittihad officials regarding the presence of politically themed statues and pictures within the stadium.
The AFC's ruling specifies that Al-Ittihad should be awarded a 3-0 win, and Sepahan Isfahan is required to pay a fine of $200,000. Furthermore, reports indicate that Sepahan will not be permitted to host its next three Asian Champions League matches at home. This decision stems from an investigation by the Disciplinary Committee, which found that Sepahan Club had violated AFC regulations by displaying politically themed images and statues within the stadium, constituting a breach of fair play rules.
The repercussions of this decision are significant, with the Iranian club facing the financial penalty and the ban on hosting its 2023 AFC Champions League matches. This outcome is considered a triumph for the Jeddah-based Al-Ittihad Club, the reigning Saudi Pro League Champions. It underscores the AFC's commitment to upholding fair play regulations and preventing political interference in football.
The original match on October 2 saw Al-Ittihad refusing to take the field in Isfahan, where a sizable crowd of 60,000 fans had gathered. Their decision was reportedly influenced by the presence of a statue of the late Gen. Qassem Soleimani near the entrance tunnel. In response, Sepahan has expressed its intent to file an official complaint with the AFC to contest the disciplinary measures taken against them.