|Al Najaf and Arbil clubs have been banned from the AFC Cup competition [EPA]|
Two Iraqi football clubs have been disqualified from the 2010 AFC Cup due to Fifa’s ongoing suspension of the country’s main football body.
World governing body Fifa banned Iraq in November after political interference in the running of the country’s Football Association.
Arbil and Al Najaf had been due to take part in qualifiers for the AFC Cup – the Asian Football Confederation’s secondary club competition behind the Asian Champions League – before an Asian Football Confederation deadline had lapsed for the Iraq Football Association to resolve its difficulties with Fifa.
“It is with deep regret that Iraqi clubs cannot participate in the AFC Cup 2010,” AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam told the AFC website on Thursday.
“We, however, gave our best efforts in supporting the Iraq FA in trying to ensure that their teams played in the competition.”
Fifa suspended the IFA in 2009 after it was taken over by the Iraq Olympic
Committee, infringing a Fifa rule that national football bodies be independent of governments.
The suspension of the two clubs meant that Qatar’s Al-Rayyan and Uzbeki’s Nasaf are promoted into the group stages, and would progress directly to the group phase of the 2010 competition.
The group stage had also been reduced from 32 to 31 teams, with Group B to have only three teams.
Al Rayyan will go into Group E along with Jordan’s Al Wehdat, Bahrain’s Riffa and Oman’s Al Nahda. Nasaf will be in Group C against Libya’s Al Ahed, Kuwait’s Kazma and Syria’s Al Jaish.