Defending champions Al Hilal have been kicked out of the Asian Champions League after naming only 11 players for their final group game with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on Wednesday.
Fifteen Al Hilal players were ruled out after positive Covid-19 tests last week and the Saudi Arabian side only named nine players in their starting line-up, plus two goalkeepers on the bench.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said Al Hilal’s previous Group B results are null and void and the club are “deemed to have withdrawn”.
AFC rules state teams must name a minimum of 13 players in their matchday squads and Wednesday’s game did not go ahead.
Both Al Hilal and the Saudi Arabia Football Federation requested a postponement owing to “exceptional circumstances” but the AFC said that would have had a “huge negative impact” on the competition schedule “and so no exception was granted”.
Al Hilal narrowly avoided sanction when they named a squad of 14 for their penultimate match on Sunday.
On that occasion a goalless draw against Iran’s Shahr Khodro saw them qualify for the knockout stage, but their withdrawal means Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai now advance to the last 16.