A disturbing scene unfolded during Wednesday's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champion's League Quarterfinal match between Iranian champions Sepahan and Saudi league runners-up Al Ahli.
It is unclear at what point during the game at Iran's Foolad Shahr Stadium that an explosive device was thrown onto the field, but reports indicate that the match was approximately at the halfway point when the incident occurred.
Video of the incident shows the home team's Adel Kolahkaj (number 40 in yellow), apparently unaware of the danger, bending over and nonchalantly picking up the object and tossing it over the touchline.
The device then explodes upon impact with the ground, sending the players and officials scampering for cover. Thankfully no one was hurt during the incident and the match ended in a nil-nil draw.
One would be hard pressed to believe that the incident occurred at all from just reading the official match report on the AFC's website, which doesn't even mention the stoppage in play, let alone the shocking incident.
This is yet another disturbing example of the increasingly charged atmosphere surrounding international matches. In recent years there have been tons of controversy involving fan misconduct.
Just earlier this year, 73 people were killed following a match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry. Shocking video seemed to confirm what investigators suspected was a coordinated attack, part of the sectarian violence that has plagued the country.
Then in May, Giovanni Moreno of Argentinian side, Racing, was reportedly threatened at gun point by fans, who held a pistol to his knee threatening to end his career unless he played better for the club.
Last November saw fans attack two players during a match in Romania, with one player reportedly suffering a broken jaw after a spectator ran onto the pitch and assaulted him, while in another incident, a goalkeeper reportedly suffered severe burns after being hit by a live firecracker.
The AFC's silence on this latest incident is just yet another maddening example of the sport's governing bodies hiding their collective heads in the stands where it governs threats to safety and the integrity of the game.
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