Iraq feel Fifa wrath
Iraq faces Fifa wrath after national football association disbanded.
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2009 14:53 GMT

Iraq have been given 72 hours by Fifa to resolve the dispute [AFP]
World football's governing body Fifa has threatened Iraq's FA with suspension if they do not restore their disbanded national federation by Thursday.

Iraq's Olympic Committee dissolved the national football authority's ruling board on Monday, alleging financial and administrative irregularities and repeatedly delayed elections.

Fifa announced it was an "incomprehensible'' decision to dissolve the Asian Cup winners' association.

"The basis on which such a decision could be taken is incomprehensible to Fifa,'' the international governing body said in a statement.

"This stands in total contradiction with (Iraqi federation) and Fifa statutes.''

Power struggle

The leaders of Iraq's Olympic committee and the Iraqi Football Association have been embroiled in a power struggle for control of the sport for at least a year.

Olympic committee members blame the IFA for a continuing Fifa ban on Iraq hosting international matches due to lingering insecurity.

Fifa this year allowed Iraq to host its first friendlies since the 2003 US-led invasion, and Iraq beat Palestine in two matches played in the northern city of Arbil and in Baghdad.

But the general ban remains in place

The Olympic committee has demanded the IFA elect a new governing board but the football federation has refused to do so.

Olympic committee members were enraged when Fifa intervened to extend the mandate of the IFA's board.

"We will not reverse our decision to disband the Iraqi Soccer Federation," Samir al-Moussawi, an official of the Olympic committee, said, adding the panel would endeavour to explain its position to Fifa.

Iraq has been given 72 hours to restore the IFA or the matter will be referred to the Fifa Emergency Committee which would almost certainly result in suspension.

"Fifa appeals once more to all stakeholders in Iraq to respect the autonomy of sport in general and the IFA in particular and to allow IFA to conduct its affairs according its statutes and those of FIFA," the statement added.

The deputy head of the IFA, Najih Hmoud, said the Olympic committee's actions were "illegitimate and illegal".

"This decision is wrong and damages the public interest of Iraq," he said.


Fifa rules seek to protect football officials from government interference.

Fifa can ban national teams and officials, including referees, from taking part in international matches and events even if they are not to blame for government meddling.

Last month, Fifa granted the Iraq FA until April 30, 2010 to adopt new statutes and elect a new board, stressing that the process had to be independent and free of government interference.

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