FIFA chief Infantino to miss Iraq-Saudi Arabia match

FIFA will decide next month whether to lift a ban preventing Iraq from hosting competitive international matches
FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a press conference during the 67th FIFA Congress in the Bahraini capital Manama on May 11, 2017. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Wed 28 Feb 2018 07:56 AM

FIFA president Gianni Infantino will not attend Wednesday's international friendly between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Basra, despite an invitation from local football authorities.

"The president will not come to Iraq," a FIFA spokesperson in Geneva told AFP on Tuesday by telephone.

Iraqi officials had invited Infantino in the hope of convincing world football's governing body that the country, battered by years of violence and conflict, is fit to host international fixtures.

FIFA must decide next month whether to lift a ban preventing Iraq from hosting competitive international matches.

The country has not played full internationals on home turf ever since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait that sparked an international embargo.

The ban, covering all but local matches, stayed in place after the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

It was briefly lifted in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil led FIFA to promptly to reinstate it.

Iraq in December declared victory over the ISIL jihadist group following a three-year battle, and FIFA finally relaxed the ban, allowing international friendlies at stadiums in Arbil, Basra and Karbala.

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Last Updated: Wed 28 Feb 2018 07:30 AM GST

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