Mehdi Taj Mahajan Vasudevan Nair

Tehran Times - Esteghlal and Persepolis football teams are in danger of elimination from the 2023 AFC Champions League.

The Iranian top sides were kicked out of the Asian Champions League last season after having their licenses withdrawn by the Asian Football Confederation.

President of Iran football federation Mehdi Taj held a meeting with head of Club Licensing at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Mahajan Vasudevan Nair in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Tuesday. The AFC top official has said the Esteghlal and Persepolis have not satisfied all of the mandatory criteria so far.

Tehran-based Persepolis are two-time finalists while Esteghlal were winners of the 1970 and 1991 Asian Club Championship – the forerunner to the Asian Champions League.

Gol Gohar Sirjan, a third Iranian team, were also stripped of their license last year and just Foolad represented Iran in the competition.

Esteghlal and Persepolis have not yet been granted licenses to participate in the 2023 AFC Champions League.

AFC had challenged the "joint ownership" of the two Iranian clubs by the Ministry of Sports and Youth last season and the Confederation has not yet convinced about their privatization.

AFC has a history of barring clubs from the League on the grounds of perceived political interference in sport, including Saudi clubs. This has been a cause of concern for the AFC since at least 2019.

If the two clubs fail to receive professional licenses in the next few months, the disciplinary committee will decide about them and most likely cancel their professional licenses, leading them to relegation in the Iran league.

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