FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Iraq proposes Jordan as host after governing body's request to change venue amid protests

Iraq had been due to play the two games in Basra — against Iran on 14 November and Bahrain on 19 November — but the southern port city has been caught up in the anti-government demonstrations that have swept Baghdad and the south.

Agence France-Presse November 06, 2019 20:59:19 IST
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Iraq proposes Jordan as host after governing body's request to change venue amid protests
  • Iraq had been due to play the two games in Basra â�� against Iran on 14 November and Bahrain on 19 November â�� but the southern port city has been caught up in the anti-government demonstrations that have swept Baghdad and the south.

  • Earlier, the Iraqi federation's deputy head said FIFA had requested it move the games outside the country.

  • Iraq tops its group for Asia Cup qualification with seven points, leading Bahrain on goal difference, while Iran holds third spot with six points.

Baghdad: Iraq has proposed Jordan to host its 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup qualifiers this month, after FIFA requested an alternative venue because of ongoing protests, officials said Wednesday.

Iraq had been due to play the two games in Basra — against Iran on 14 November and Bahrain on 19 November — but the southern port city has been caught up in the anti-government demonstrations that have swept Baghdad and the south.

"Jordan was chosen to host the matches against Bahrain and Iran," Abdelkhaleq Masud, the head of Iraq's football federation, told AFP on Wednesday.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Iraq proposes Jordan as host after governing bodys request to change venue amid protests

File image of Iraq's men's football team. AFP

The proposal must now be approved by FIFA.

Earlier, the Iraqi federation's deputy head said FIFA had requested it move the games outside the country.

"FIFA informed us late Tuesday night that we must choose a new place, an alternative outside Iraq, for the scheduled match with Iran by Wednesday," Ali Jabbar told AFP.

A statement from FIFA said it had assessed "the current security situation in Iraq" and informed the local federation that upcoming matches "must be played on neutral ground."

"The Iraqi Football Association has been requested to nominate a neutral venue for the said matches, which is subject to confirmation by FIFA and the AFC," it said.

The decision is a major disappointment for Iraq, which had lobbied FIFA for years to reverse a ban on hosting home internationals because of instability.

Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country was plunged into years of violence and no international games were hosted there.

The ban was lifted by FIFA last year and Iraq hosted its first qualifier in October against Hong Kong, winning 2-0.

Iraq tops its group for Asia Cup qualification with seven points, leading Bahrain on goal difference, while Iran holds third spot with six points.

Hong Kong and Cambodia each have one point.

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