AFC President

AFC President welcomes FIFA decision to lift Iraq ban

Kuala Lumpur: Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation President, on Saturday welcomed the decision by the FIFA Council to allow competitive matches to resume in Iraq.

Meeting in Bogota, Colombia, FIFA agreed that competitive matches could be played in Erbil, Basra and Karbala and Shaikh Salman said: ‘This is a significant moment in shaping the future of football in Iraq.

"The AFC , and the Asian football family as a whole, have supported this structured return of competitive football to Iraq.

"I was in Basra last month to see the friendly against  Saudi Arabia and it was clear that the time had come to lift the restriction on competitive matches - and I am delighted FIFA agree.

"I congratulate the Iraqi Football Association and all their stakeholders in working so hard to achieve this positive outcome for the game in their country.

"Football development in Iraq can only be benefitted by the ability of Iraqi football lovers to see matches played on their own soil and to become involved in the game at every level."

Iraq will host a friendly tournament involving their national side as well as Qatar and Syria in Basra starting on Wednesday while the AFC Cup matches involving Al Zawraa and Bahraini side Manama Club and Air Force Club's home game against Malkiya of Bahrain can now be played in April.