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Iran Asks to Move World Cup Qualifier In Hong Kong Amid Protests

Iran--Iran National Football Team

Iran wishes to move its September 10 World Cup qualifying match in Hong Kong to a neutral venue given the anti-government protests there that have sometimes paralyzed the city and delayed flights at the airport.

Homeira Asadi, head of the international affairs department of Iran’s soccer federation, told dpa news agency on September 2 that world soccer governing body FIFA has been informed of Tehran’s request.

Since June, Hong Kong has at times experienced violent protests which have led to clashes with police and the partial shutdown of one of the world’s busiest airports, all of which has caused a drop in tourism.

School and university students are on September 3 planning to hold rallies for a second consecutive day in the semiautonomous city.

As the academic year started, thousands of students took to the streets the previous day to call for more democratic freedoms from Beijing.

Early in the day, activists disrupted train services at different stations causing major rush hour traffic delays.

Over the weekend, some protesters set fires and threw petrol bombs while officers used tear gas and water cannon against the crowd.

The protests started with calls for the government to scrap a bill that would allow the extradition of criminal suspects in Hong Kong to mainland China, but the movement has widened to include demands for greater democracy in the Chinese-ruled city, which is facing its biggest political crisis in decades.

Reuters reported on September 2 that the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, told business leaders last week that she had caused "unforgivable havoc" by introducing the extradition bill that is now suspended.

Lam said she would resign if she had a choice, according to Reuters.

A spokesman for Lam said her office would not comment on private meetings.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and South China Morning Post