Saudi Pro League Superstars to Play AFC Champions League Games in Iran

  • Publish date: Tuesday، 05 September 2023 Last update: Thursday، 12 October 2023
Saudi Pro League Superstars to Play AFC Champions League Games in Iran

Saudi Pro League superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar will be allowed to play in Asian Champions League games in Iran, after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced a "groundbreaking agreement" between the two countries' football federations.

Saudi Arabian and Iranian clubs will be able to play home-and-away matches in the AFC Champions League for the first time since 2016, after a travel ban between the two countries was lifted.

Since 2016, Saudi and Iranian clubs have played their AFC Champions League matches in neutral venues, usually in Dubai or Doha. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Iranian teams were allowed to play in Saudi Arabia under strict health rules.

The AFC said it "welcomes the historic move" as it reflects the commitment of Saudi Arabia and Iran "towards fostering closer ties between their respective footballing communities".

The 2023-24 AFC Champions League season will kick off on September 18, 2023, with a match between Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr and Iranian club Persepolis. The return leg will be played on November 27, 2023, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Other notable matches in the first round of the group stage include a match between Saudi champions Al Ittihad, captained by current Ballon d'Or holder Karim Benzema, and Iranian club Sepahan on October 2, 2023. Al Hilal, who last month announced the signing of Brazilian forward Neymar, are scheduled to meet Iranian club Nassaji Mazandaran on October 3, 2023. The return legs of these matches will be played in Saudi Arabia on December 12, 2023.

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