Iran–Saudi Arabia football rivalry
|Other names||Islamic Derby|
|First meeting||24 August 1975|
(44 years ago)
|Latest meeting||Iran 0–0 Saudi Arabia|
(9 December 2012)
|Most wins||Iran (5)|
|Top scorer|| Gholamhossein Mazloomi (4)|
Ali Daei (4)
|Largest victory||Iran 3–0 Saudi Arabia|
The game has been ranked 9th in Bleacher Report's "International Football's 10 Most Politically-Charged Football Rivalries" and 8th in Goal.com's "Football's 10 Greatest International Rivalries".
Iran and Saudi Arabia team have had 15 matches so far. All of their matches have been competitive and they have never played a friendly match. The first match was played on 24 August 1975, with Iran defeating Saudi Arabia 3–0.
The two have long battled for West Asian supremacy and their matches have been "always tight, tense and furiously competitive". Another fissure between the two is religion. While Iran is the spiritual homeland of Shia Islam (since the Safavid dynasty), Saudi Arabia is a country with a Sunni Islam majority. These two religious sects form a minority in the other country (see Sunni Islam in Iran and Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia).
The rivalry has been expanded into club matches as well. For example, after the Saudi Arabian national team's away win in March 2009, Saudi players sword-danced in front of 100,000 angry Iranian fans in Azadi Stadium. When Zob Ahan eliminated Al-Hilal in the 2010 AFC Champions League semi-final, Iranian players mocked the dance in front of Saudi fans. When Persepolis was scheduled to play away at Ittihad in the 2011 AFC Champions League, Saudi immigration authorities forced Iranian players to be fingerprinted and irises scanned upon their arrival at Jeddah airport. The Iranians refused to do so and were held at the airport for 8 hours.
Iranian football fans take most pleasure in defeating Saudi Arabia, alongside Bahrain, whose players used to wave Saudi Arabian flags when they defeated Iran 3–1 during their 2002 World Cup qualification.
|Matches held in Iran||5|
|Matches held in neutral venue||6|
|Matches held in Saudi Arabia||4|
- "Saudi Arabia VS Iran: Launch pad for Saudi reign". FIFA.com. October 28, 1993. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Peters, Jerrad (October 15, 2014). "International Football's 10 Most Politically-Charged Football Rivalries". Bleacher Report. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Staunton, Peter (November 17, 2010). "Football's 10 Greatest International Rivalries; Argentina - Brazil, Portugal - Spain, Algeria - Egypt, Japan - South Korea And More". Goal.com. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Dorsey, James M. "Iranian bid for FIFA tournament takes tension with the Gulf to the soccer pitch". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- صعود مقتدرانه ذوبآهن به فينال ليگ قهرمانان آسيا پاسخی به رقص شمشير سعودیها در تهران ['Zob Ahan's powerful qualification to AFC Champions League final match, a response to Saudi Sword dance in Tehran']. Kayhan (in Persian) (19772). October 23, 2010. p. 13.
- Duerden, John. "Asia awaits neighbourly rivalry". ESPN. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Sundaresan, Keeshaanan (October 11, 2011). "Bad memories will motivate us to defeat Bahrain, says Iran skipper Javad Nekounam". Goal.com. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Courtney, Barrie (3 April 2009). "Saudi Arabia - List of International Matches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Panahi, Majeed (7 August 2014). "Iran - International Matches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2014.