Iraq hopes to bring FIFA soccer back to its stadiums
BAGHDAD – Iraq has worked to ban FIFA’s football stadiums by hosting showgirl games and courting international soccer stars to visit the country’s facilities.
The games come as Iraq is trying to encourage the international governing body of football to lift its ban, in force since 2013. In May, FIFA agreed that Iraq Animals Unofficial Games or the “friendly” for the three-month period of proof.
Before his match with the Syrian Olympic team, the Iraqi national team played on June 1 against the Jordanian team at Basra International Stadium in the south of the country. About 65,000 spectators gathered to watch Iraq 1-0.
In addition to hosting unofficial games, Iraq is trying to attract the stars of international football to visit the sports facilities. Iraq is preparing to host a group of international soccer stars to participate in a friendly match with Iraqi star players.
On June 18, former Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids arrived in Iraq to explore the international stage of Basra, where the match will be played on 1 August.
“The Iraqi people have a passion for [football] and promotional games will help lift the ban imposed on Iraqi football,” Davids said during his visit. Ahmed Musawi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, welcomed Davids.
Musawi told Al-Monitor: “There are indications that the ban could be lifted, especially in the midst of games that Iraq played against Jordan and Syria. We felt great [will] from the Arab and international federations to lift the ban on Iraqi stadiums. ”
He added: “There are international companies ready to cooperate with Iraq to organize international games … In addition, the most important match between the stars of international football and Iraq will be held in August ..”
Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, former stars of Brazilian football, former Dutch soccer star Clarence Seedorf and Davids are some of the sports celebrities who are going to go to Basra.
A source at the Youth and Sports Ministry told Al-Monitor in anonymity: “After the friendly matches to be held in Iraqi stadiums, Iraq will present a special report on these games and the organizational measures related to the International Federation of Football [FIFA], as well as videos that show viewers. ”
Iraq has seen its share ban on hosting games. The ban imposed since 2013 came after a coach died at the hands of the security forces and the country suffers frequent jihadist attacks.
Other security-related bans were imposed in 1985 during the Iran-Iraq war in 1990 with the invasion of Kuwait in 2003 and during the United States War against Iraq. In 2009, the Iraqi National Olympic Committee demolished the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) and the Iraqi security forces supported the IFA offices.
The FIFA Urgency Committee subsequently suspended the IFA. The Iraqi Olympic Committee and the IFA have had a long conflict over the responsibility of the country’s football program.
In a sign of hope, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has allowed Iraq to host a conference in May between two teams of the Iraqi Air Force and Al Zawraa.
Although Iraq had to play all of FIFA’s official games outside its own stage in recent years, it has achieved several projects. Occupying the number
4 at the Athens Olympics in 2004, took first place in the Western Asian Games in 2005, won the Asian Cup in 2007 and the Arab Cup for young people the first time in 2014.