0938 GMT June 30, 2022
Selecting Bahrain as the host and centralized venue for Iran’s matches in the Group C of the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ was the result of a collusion between the world and Asian footballs, said the head of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Islamic Republic of Iran.
Commenting on the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Friday confirmation of the centralized venues for the two tournaments’ qualifiers, scheduled to take place from May 31 to June 15, 2021, Reza Salehi-Amiri added the one-year disruption in passing the new statutes of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran damaged relations between Iran and the AFC, which per se, led to this decision, IRNA reported.
He warned that football must not be impacted by clandestine and political decisions, noting that the reasons provided for the decision fail to be convincing.
Salehi-Amiri added FIFA’s meaningful silence over the past two weeks violates the Iranian football’s rights.
“Such a behavior is in contradiction to all sport principles and frameworks and an immoral move”, he noted, saying such dishonest and unprofessional behaviors are part of a bigger political puzzle.
Salehi-Amiri regretted supporting AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, saying the AFC decision will be discussed in a joint meeting between the Iranian Ministry of Sport and Youth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NOC.
The-afc.com reported on Friday that following a process of close consultation with Asia’s Member Associations, the AFC confirmed the centralized venues for the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ matches.
China PR will host Group A, which comprises leader Syria, the Philippines, Maldives and Guam, with Kuwait confirmed as the host for Group B, which includes Australia, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei, the-afc.com reported.
Bahrain will stage the matches in Group C which features table-topper Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hong Kong and Cambodia, while Saudi Arabia has been selected to hold the matches in Group D, which includes the likes of Uzbekistan, Singapore, Yemen and Palestine.
Meanwhile, FIFA World Cup 2022 host Qatar, will welcome Group E opponents Oman, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh, with Japan set to provide the stage for the matches in Group F comprising Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.
The UAE has been selected as the host for Group G, which consists of ASEAN challengers Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia; while Korea Republic will stage the matches for Group H, which includes leader Turkmenistan, Lebanon, North Korea and Sri Lanka.
In addition, the AFC on Thursday confirmed the venues for the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2021 Group Stage after an extensive feedback exercise with its Participating Member Associations, commercial partners and all relevant stakeholders.
The West Region matches, which are scheduled to take place between April 14-30, will see Saudi Arabia host Groups A and D in Riyadh as well as Group C in Jeddah, with the matches in Group B to be staged in the UAE city of Sharjah, while India, whose representative FC Goa is poised to mark the nation’s debut in Asia’s premier club competition, will host Group E.
In the East Region, the AFC has decided to postpone the Group Stage matches originally planned for April 21-May 7 to June-July 2021, taking into consideration the existing travel restrictions and quarantine challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Thailand will provide the backdrop for the matches in the East Region Groups F, G and J, with the venues for Groups H and I as well as the exact dates for all Groups to be decided and communicated in due course. The preliminary and playoff matches of the ACL 2021 (East) are also postponed and will be played in centralized venues of their respective Group Stage matches.
As part of the bidding process, which was opened to all Participating Member Associations, a wide range of requirements were put in place to ensure adherence to the highest health and safety protocols and standards.
These include minimum travel and quarantine restrictions for away clubs, the convenience of flight connections and the medical situation in the host country, sufficient venues to organize the matches and, most importantly, mandatory COVID-19 tests to be organized for all players and officials, the costs of which will be borne by the AFC.