Saudi football club Al Ittihad refused to play on Monday in Isfahan against Iran’s Sepahan in the Asian Champions League match.
The players refused to play in the match, all because the hosts placed busts of General Qasem Soleimani right next to the pitch.
The military figure is very unpopular in Saudi Arabia. Soleimani was Iran’s most powerful military commander. He led Iranian military operations in the Middle East.
Al-Ittihad, in which French striker Karim Benzema plays, warmed up on the side pitch before the match in Isfahan. After arriving at the Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium, the guests gave up the game and quickly went to the airport when they saw the bust of General Soleimani placed in front of the team tunnel exit. There were 60,000 spectators in the stands at that time.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will now review the incident. It is believed that Tuesday’s match in the same competition, Al-Hilal against Iranian team Nassaji Mazandaran, is also in serious doubt. No decision has been made to cancel it yet.