0645 GMT February 25, 2020
“It appears that the decision of your Competitions Committee was influenced by foreign media hostile” toward Iran, Soltanifar told Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the head of the Asian soccer’s governing body, according to the ministry’s news agency, AFP reported.
On Friday, Iran Football Federation said it has received a letter from AFC which read that its Competitions Committee has decided to strip the Iranian sides of playing on home soil.
“Iran is a safe and powerful country… We have no problems regarding the security of aviation,” Soltanifar was quoted as saying in the call with AFC chief.
The minister said that in addition he would “personally guarantee the security of visiting football teams.”
All four Iranian teams representing in the competition – Esteghlal, Persepolis, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro – have threatened to pull out if the ban is confirmed.
But a non-Iranian source close to the issue told AFP the ban “is not an official decision yet.”
“It’s still a recommendation by the Competitions Committee (at the AFC) that needs to be approved by the executive committee,” the source said.
Esteghlal was scheduled to take on Kuwait SC in a preliminary fixture at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on January 21, with Shahr Khodro also set to host Bahraini side Al Riffa on the same day.