FIFA mulls letting Iraq host 2014 World Cup qualifiers

FIFA mulls letting Iraq host 2014 World Cup qualifiers

PanARMENIAN.Net - FIFA will decide soon if Iraq is safe enough to host 2014 World Cup qualifying games again. The country has been barred from holding home games since last September, AP reported.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter led a meeting Friday, April 13 with an Iraqi delegation, including national team coach Zico. The governing body said in a statement "the matter will be evaluated in due course and will be based exclusively on security considerations."

Iraq is scheduled to host Oman on June 12 after beginning the next phase of the Asian qualifying tournament on June 3.

FIFA banned Iraq from hosting qualifiers for the World Cup and 2012 Olympics. The decision was made for security reasons and after a stadium power outage in the Kurdish city of Irbil during a World Cup qualifier against Jordan in September.

Iraq then played - and won - five straight matches on the road to advance from a group that included China and Singapore. Its subsequent "home" matches were played in neutral Doha, Qatar.

Iraq's current five-team group also includes Australia and Japan, which are favored to claim the two automatic places in the 2014 lineup in Brazil. Iraq is scheduled to host Australia on Oct. 16, Jordan on Nov. 14 and Japan on June 11, 2013.

The Iraqi Football Association, led in Zurich by its president, Najeh Hamoud, has expressed hopes of returning to play in Baghdad, and inviting Blatter to the country. Iraq hasn't played in Baghdad since 2009 and a return to Irbil seems more likely.

Blatter posted positive messages about Iraq on his Twitter account after the meeting, recalling that he saw the national team win the 2007 Asian Cup final played in Indonesia.

Iraq has qualified once for the World Cup, losing all three matches in 1986 to host Mexico, Belgium and Paraguay.

 Top stories
Magakian’s career was rewarded with the Legion of Honor, the National Order of Merit and the Gold Medal of Youth and Sports.
Martirosyan is especially eager to fight in front of the Armenian communities of New England and of the greater tri-state area.
The judge said the accused believed his life was in danger and therefore could not be found guilty of a lesser charge of murder.
The 78-year-old announced his intention to go for a fifth term in charge of world football's governing body.
Partner news