Iraq to play qualifiers in Qatar - statement

01 October 2011 04:05

Iraq will play their 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Qatar after being barred from hosting matches by FIFA, a statement from the Qatari football association said.

Iraq were last month prohibited from hosting qualifying matches for the two tournaments and asked by world football's governing body to choose a neutral venue by October 3.

"The Qatar Football Association (QFA) will host the official matches of the Iraq senior national team and the Olympic team in the qualifications for the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games," the statement posted on the QFA website said.

Iraq had previously hosted games at the Francois Hariri Stadium in Arbil, most recently on September 2 when the hosts and 2007 Asian champions lost 2-0 to Jordan.

Arbil is the capital of the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, which is widely seen as much safer than the rest of the country.

Iraq Football Association Secretary Tareq Ahmed said FIFA's decision was taken following the September 2 match 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.

Iraq are currently third in Group A of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, behind Jordan and China, but ahead of Singapore. They next play China in Shenzhen on October 11.

The country are also last in Group B of Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics, behind Uzbekistan, Australia and the UAE.

Source: AFP