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FIFA lifts ban on friendlies in Iraq

21 Mar 2013 17:46:58

FIFA lifts ban on friendlies in Iraq

FIFA lifted a ban on international football friendlies in Iraqi stadiums on Thursday, permitting matches in Baghdad for the first time since the 2003 US-led invasion, an Iraqi football official said.

World football's governing body made the decision at a meeting in Switzerland, according to Iraqi Football Association vice president Abdulkhaleq Massud, who added that Iraq's national team will play a friendly against Syria on Tuesday in the northern city of Arbil.

"We received a preliminary notification from (FIFA) ... stating that FIFA permits the partial removal of the ban" thereby allowing international friendlies, Massud told AFP.

"We hope in the future that there will be a complete removal of the ban on all other formal football matches," he said.

FIFA banned Iraq from holding any international fixtures after a September 2, 2011 World Cup qualifier against Jordan due to the poor administration and organisation surrounding it.

In particular, the match was delayed for 10 minutes because of a power cut, and the stadium appeared to have significantly more spectators than its capacity of 12,400.

Baghdad has also not held any internationally-sanctioned football friendlies since the 2003 invasion, though in 2009, the Iraqi national team faced off against a squad representing the Palestinian Territories.

Iraq's national team currently plays its home friendlies in Qatar, but began training in Baghdad for the first time since the invasion this month.


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