The Asian Football Confederation has chosen to award the Matchday 2 encounter between Syria’s Al-Wahda and Shabab Al-Dhahrieh to Al-Wahda.
The encounter was due to take place in Sidon, Lebanon on March 9th with Syria rendered too unsafe to host international matches. Eight Shabab Al-Dhahrieh players were held at the airport and later deported for having Israeli passports. The unfortunate incident left the squad short of the requisite 11 players needed to contest a football match and as a result no match was played.
In the aftermath of the incident the AFC issued no communication and elected to declare the match ‘postponed’ on its official website.
Football’s governing body in the continent changed its tune today issuing the following statement:
The Committee found that Al Dharia (PLE) was the relevant party that caused the cancellation of the match in accordance with Article 17.3 of the Competition Regulations. The Committee ordered that Al Dharia (PLE) forfeit the match by a score of 3-0 and pay a fine of USD20,000.
Barring an appeal from the Hebron-based club the decision leaves them out of the running for the knockout stage of the AFC Cup. It also remains to be seen whether the club, which is seriously strapped for cash, can afford to pay the fine levied by the AFC.
The decision seems to run counter to one taken just last week, whereby Iraq was ordered to change its choice of neutral ground, due to the fact that Saudi citizens were currently banned from traveling to Iran:
Please be reminded that FIFA and AFC jointly emphasize on the nominated neutral venues be free from existing travel restrictions from both the Host Association and all Visiting Associations.
Curiously enough, there was no decision taken on the Ahli Al-Khaleel-Al-Jeish match which was slated to take place on the same day but postponed due to the Syrian side refusing to travel to Palestine.