Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, head of Asian Football Confederation has called on FIFA to lift three decade long ban on Iraq. According to him its time that Iraq should be able to host competitive international matches .
He said, “The time has come. We ask FIFA to take this decision and we invite FIFA’s leaders to come and watch matches in Iraq.”
Khalifa gave this statement during a news conference at the stadium in the southern city of Basra ahead of an international friendly in which Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 4-1.
Interestingly Iraq has not played full internationals on home turf ever since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait that sparked an international embargo. The said ban covers all but domestic matches and has stayed in place after the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Although the ban did lift in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil led FIFA to promptly reinstate it.
Iraq in December declared victory over the ISIL group and FIFA finally relaxed the ban, allowing international friendlies in Basra, Karbala, south of Baghdad, and in Arbil.
Recently Gianni Infantino, president of world football’s governing body FIFA was invited by Iraq’s football authorities but he did not travel to Basra for the match.
FIFA is due to decide on March 16 whether to lift the ban preventing Iraq from hosting competitive international matches.
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