FIFA has finally given Iraq Football Association the permission to host their home matches in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers inside the country.
FIFA had earlier denied Iraq the permission to host their home matches inside the country due to security reasons and had asked the Iraq FA to nominate a neutral venue to play their home matches in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers second round which is set to begin next month.
Iraq are scheduled to play Bahrain in their opener away on September 5 in Group C of the qualification event before facing Hong Kong in a home match on October 10. IR Iran and Cambodia are the two other teams that are part of the same group.
Football is coming home! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/GU3t0nxUEf
— Soccer Iraq (@SoccerIraq) August 20, 2019
“Please be informed that the FIFA Council’s decision of 16 March 2018 confirmed that FIFA official matches could not be held in Iraq unless a risk assessment by FIFA allows this temporarily explicitly. This is not the case at present. The security risk remains high and has deteriorated rather than improved,” FIFA had said in the letter dated July 26, 2019.
However, FIFA have now lifted the ban upon further assessment by their team during the 9th WAFF Championship 2019 which was hosted by Iraq at the Karbala Sports City and Franso Hariri Stadium, Erbil from July 30 to August 14.
A letter, dated August 20, 2019 to Iraq FA from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, confirmed the same.
“Based on the decision of the FIFA Council Meeting in March 2018 “to conditionally lift the ban to allow international official matches in Erbil, Basra and Karbala, subject to decision by the relevant tournament organisers,” FIFA conducted an assessment visit to Iraq during the 9th WAFF Championship tournament as well as an overall risk assessment,” Infantino’s letter read.
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Yemen 0-2 Iraq – Bashar Resan Bonyan(19′)
“I am pleased to inform you that after evaluation of the assessment, Basra can be nominated as home venue for the official qualification matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – until further notice and subject to revocation at any time if the security situation should deteriorate,” the FIFA president wrote.
This means that the Lions of Mesopotamia are now scheduled to play their home matches of the World Cup Qualifiers at the 65,227-seater Basra Sports City.
Meanwhile, AFC president Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has welcomedFIFA’s decision to approve Basra to host Iraq’s matches. He said that it is a “great achievement for Iraqi football, and will be a great support for the development efforts for the game in the country,”