Is Saudi Arabia safe to host international tournaments?
The AFC has decided to hold the AFC Champions League and World Cup qualifiers in Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that all the cities of the invading Saudi regime are under threat of Yemeni forces' drone and missile attacks.
The confederation, which declared Iran unsafe and deprived our country of hosting privileges for detonating small firecrackers at Azadi Stadium, introduced Saudi Arabia as the host of the Asian sports tournament in a dubious and politically motivated decision.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s most notorious human rights regime after the Israeli regime for six years of invading Yemen and massacring thousands of innocent people, and the AFC has made a political decision to gain prestige for the notorious Saudi rulers. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) says it has received guarantees from Saudi Arabia for a successful tournament, but when the Riyadh government fails to provide security for sensitive areas of the country, how will it be able to provide security for its stadiums?
Can the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) guarantee the safety of the participating teams? Aramco Oil Company which is the economic axis of Saudi Arabia and its airports are under daily fire from missiles and drones of the Yemeni powers. Have AFC officials thought about the consequences of possible catastrophes?
In recent years, the Saudi government has sought to cover up its crimes in Yemen, especially the killing of homeless children, by holding international tournaments and festivals. This Saudi approach has not gone unnoticed by many international organizations, and human rights advocates around the world have sought to expose repeated human rights violations against the Yemeni people.
For example, the human rights and anti-war organization Code Pink recently asked Lewis Hamilton, a British driver who was planning to compete in Formula One in Saudi Arabia, not to participate in the September 2021 race in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The human rights organization cited the Saudi military invasion of Yemen and the Saudi authorities’ black record of human rights as the reason for its request to the car hero.
Human rights abuses, including the October 2018 assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the issue of women’s rights, as well as the Yemeni war, which is the focus of the independent media and pro-human rights figures and institutions around the world, should also be considered by the AFC.
The AFC officials should know that it is not too late and they can make a wise and courageous decision not to tie the confederation’s reputation to the vague fate of the Saudi family.
In the meantime, we hope that the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue their efforts to persuade the AFC to reconsider its decision to host Saudi Arabia and to make a dignified decision on the presence or absence of Iranian football teams. Naturally, the factors that led to the hosting of Saudi Arabia in these insecure conditions are able to drive Iranian teams out of Saudi Arabia as losers. In this situation, we just have to think about making the right decision.