As recently as last week, World Cup hopefuls Iran were all but set for a four-day training camp in Dubai followed by a friendly match against UAE on April 17. However, that international match was cancelled by UAE officials on Friday in an unexpected turn of events.
The reasons for the shock cancellation are political in nature; Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday visited the island of Abu Masa, located in the country's southern Hormozgan province.
The UAE claim the disputed islands as their own territory, and reacted on Friday by recalling their ambassador to Iran as well as cancelling the game between the neighbouring countries.
“The friendly match between Iran and UAE national teams has been cancelled," read a statement released by state officials.
ISNA also reported that Iran's federation had attempted to negotiate with UAE in an effort to hold the match.
While there was no formal contract between the two federations in regards to the friendly, political interference in the sport could lead to potential intervention by the Asian Football Confederation or Fifa.
Iran remains scheduled to face Mozambique in a May 2 friendly in Tehran.