May 26 (Reuters) – Canada Soccer has cancelled a friendly between the men’s national team and Iran next month, the national governing body said on Thursday, following widespread opposition to the fixture.
No reason was given for the cancellation of the game that was set to be played on June 5 in Vancouver and would have marked the first for Canada on home soil since March when they qualified for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 World Cup in Qatar.
The game had drawn plenty of opposition from politicians and the families of the Canadians who died aboard a Ukrainian passenger plane that was shot down near Tehran in January, 2020 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had also said he felt it was “a bad idea” to invite the Iran team to Canada.
“Over the past week, the untenable geopolitical situation of hosting Iran became significantly divisive, and in response, the match was cancelled,” Canada Soccer said in a statement.
“While we considered the external factors in selecting the optimal opponent in our original decision-making process, we will strive to do better moving forward.”
Canada Soccer also said it will conduct a review of its process for the hosting of international matches and that it is working to find an alternative opponent.
A special Canadian forensic team had produced a report in mid-2021 that accused Iran of incompetence and recklessness over the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane. Iran criticised the report as being “highly politicized”.
The report found that while the shooting down of Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 had not been premeditated, it did not absolve Iranian officials of responsibility for the incident.
Iran admitted it shot down the airliner shortly after takeoff from Tehran and blamed a “disastrous mistake” by forces on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto,Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)