TEHRAN (Dispatches) - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has banned Iran from hosting international soccer competitions for no clear reason, in a move which many see as driven by third-party pressure.
A series of reports have suggested the AFC sent a letter to the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) telling them that they would not be hosting AFC Champions League matches for the foreseeable future.
Instead, any match featuring an Iranian team would be played in a different country.
The FFIRI also said in the upcoming days, it would announce its eventual stance on the AFC decision which would deprive Iran of a main advantage.
So far, the AFC has not provided details on the ban or reasons behind its decision to impose the ban.
Amirmahdi Alavi, a spokesman for the Iranian federation, said that the AFC should avoid "false” notions regarding Iran.
"Iran is fully ready to host various teams as it has repeatedly proven during the past several years,” he said.
Iran’s Esteghlal Football Club – which is usually one of Iran’s main contenders in international competitions – has already issued a statement saying it will refuse to compete in any competition in a third country.
The statement added that the football club rejects the AFC decision and believes it is for "political” reasons.
Mahdi Mohammad Nabi, member of the board of directors of the high-ranking Persepolis Football Club, also said that the AFC ruling was based on groundless claims.
"This decision was taken without justifiable evidence and in disregard for international and national laws of member states,” he said.
Nabi added that the ruling defied article four of the FIFA Statute and article 13 of the AFC Statute which rule out discrimination against member-states.