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Saudis Refuse To Play Soccer In Iran, Citing Security Fears

The rising tensions between Tehran and Riyadh have reached into the sports arena, with the Saudi soccer federation citing security concerns for saying it will not participate in matches in Iran.

The Saudi federation's decision on January 7 cited the recent storming of the kingdom's embassy in Tehran and requested that the Asian Football Confederation order that scheduled matches between the Saudis and Iran be moved from Iran to "neutral countries."

Iran blasted the decision, which follows Saudi Arabia's move to cut off diplomatic and economic relations with Iran.

"Politics has no place in football," and the Saudi move is illogical and contravenes soccer regulations, Iranian football official Asghar Bagherian told ISNA.

Games involving Saudi and Iranian teams are currently scheduled in January and February.

The Asian federation's president, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, is a royal family member in Bahrain, which followed the Saudis in cutting ties with Iran this week.

Based on reporting by dpa and AP