The story: The abrupt cancellation of a game between Iranian and Saudi football teams has highlighted the ongoing contentions between Riyadh and Tehran below the surface. The contest was canceled after the Saudi team refused to enter the pitch over a statue of late Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
The incident has triggered fiery reactions by Iranian pro-establishment users and hardline media. On the other hand, Iran’s top diplomat has downplayed the debacle, insisting that it has no effect on the detente with Riyadh.
The coverage: The Oct. 2 game between Al-Ittihad and Sepahan was called off at the last minute. The contest at Sepahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan stadium in the central city of Isfahan was a group stage game of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Champions League.
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