Asian Champions League: Saudi aspect Al-Ittihad refuse to play in Iran on account of statue

N'Golo Kante

Former Chelsea and Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante was among the Al-Ittihad squad that arrived at the stadium before the match

Al-Ittihad’s Asian Champions League match with Iran’s Sepahan was called off on Monday after the Saudi team refused to leave their dressing room.

The Saudi side, managed by ex-Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo and featuring star players N’Golo Kante and Fabinho, were opposed to a statue of an assassinated Iranian general being placed at the entrance to the pitch.

Around 60,000 fans were in the Naghsh-e Jahn Stadium in Isfahan, Iran, at the time awaiting kick-off.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia mean that matches between clubs from the two nations had previously been played on neutral territory since 2016 due to security concerns.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said the game had been “cancelled due to unanticipated and unforeseen circumstances”.

“The AFC reiterates its commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of the players,…