By Arab News
Saudi Arabia and Iran have reached a “groundbreaking” deal to resume home-and-away football matches between club sides after seven years of competing in neutral venues, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday.
The move by the two countries’ football federations would contribute to “fostering closer ties between their respective footballing communities, allowing clubs to host matches on their home turf and visiting the respective away stadiums, creating a more engaging and exciting experience for the fans and players alike,” the AFC said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia and Iran restored diplomatic relations and agreed to reopen their embassies in a China-brokered deal signed in March.
Matches between the two national teams as well as club sides from the two countries have been played on neutral ground since 2016 when relations broke down following an AFC decision, which it described at the time as “most unfortunate.”
The AFC Champions League season is due to start on September 18, with Al-Nassr and their Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo facing Iran’s Persepolis in the opening round.
Saudi club Al-Ittihad are scheduled to play Iran’s Sepahan on October 2, and Saudi club Al Hilal are scheduled to meet Iran’s Nassaji Mazandaran on October 3.