22 Mar 2013

Fifa lifts ban on Football matches in Iraq

6:20 am on 22 March 2013

FIFA has lifted a ban on international football friendlies in Iraqi stadiums, permitting matches in Baghdad for the first time since the 2003 US-led invasion.

World football's governing body made the decision at a meeting in Switzerland, according to an Iraqi Football Association spokesman, who added that Iraq's national team will play a friendly against Syria on Tuesday in the northern city of Arbil.

FIFA banned Iraq from holding any international fixtures after a September 2, 2011 World Cup qualifier against Jordan due to the poor administration and organisation surrounding it.

In particular, the match was delayed for 10 minutes because of a power cut, and the stadium appeared to have significantly more spectators than its capacity of 12,400.

Baghdad has also not held any internationally-sanctioned football friendlies since the 2003 invasion, though in 2009, the Iraqi national team faced off against a squad representing the Palestinian Territories.

Iraq's national team currently plays its home friendlies in Qatar, but began training in Baghdad for the first time since the invasion this month.