Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to lift a ban on holding matches between their football clubs in the two countries, Iranian Football Federation Vice President Mansour Qanbarzadeh said on Friday.
Qanbarzadeh made the remarks in a live interview broadcast on Iranian state television, while commenting on the latest negotiations between the two countries’ football federations.
Qanbarzadeh said Iran’s Football Federation President Mehdi Taj and his Saudi counterpart Yasser Al Misehal held a meeting, also attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in Australia late last month and agreed to soon sign an MoU to resolve the hosting problem.
“We are on the verge of signing the MoU, under which the ban on holding the matches between Iranian and Saudi football teams in the two countries will be removed. Whenever two countries that had differences reach an agreement, other issues will be resolved.”
Qanbarzadeh added that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud had also discussed the issue, expressing hope that Saudi teams would face their Iranian rivals in the current AFC Champions League (AFC) season in Iran.
Following the move by Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early 2016 in response to attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in the country after the kingdom executed a Shiite cleric, all matches between the two sides’ football clubs have been held in neutral countries.
In March, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a groundbreaking agreement in Beijing to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and missions.
On April 6, the two countries officially announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with immediate effect.