Iranian Star Striker Banned 6 Months For Racist Gesture Hours Before Asian Champions League Semifinal

HONG KONG — Iranian striker Issa Alekasir has been handed a six-month ban by the Asian Football Confederation for a “discriminatory gesture” just hours before he was due to lead his club Persepolis into the semifinals of the Asian Champions League.

The 30-year-old forward, who has scored four times in the last three games in the competition, received the ban after making a slant-eyed gesture to television cameras after scoring against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in the quarterfinals on Wednesday evening.

Persepolis won the game 2-0 and take on Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in the semifinals on Saturday evening in Doha, where matches in the western half of the competition have been played due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Disciplinary and Ethics Committee has banned Issa Alekasir, of Persepolis FC, from taking part in any kind of football-related activity for six months for violating Article 58.1 of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code (2019 Edition),” the AFC said in a statement. “The ban will take effect immediately.”

In addition, Alekasir, whose goal also took Persepolis through the Round of 16 with a 1-0 victory over Qatar’s Al Sadd, has been fined $10,000 USD.

Persepolis take on Al Nassr on Saturday with the winner facing the top club from the eastern half of the draw in the final on December 19.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christina Fincher)

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