Iraq faces a year in the soccer wilderness after FIFA suspended it from all international competitions on Monday and issued an ultimatum to Baghdad.
The executive board of world soccer’s governing body announced it had imposed the ban after the Iraq government dissolved its National Olympic Committee and national sport federations in breach of FIFA and Olympic regulations.
The board will recommend that the FIFA Congress, which meets in Sydney on Friday, suspends Iraq from all tournaments for 12 months, but left the door open for a reprieve if Baghdad reversed its decision by 1400 GMT on Thursday.
A suspension would destroy Iraq’s dream of competing at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Iraq were due to play Australia in a qualifier in Brisbane on Sunday then again in Dubai next week and if they miss those matches, Australia would be given the points.
“The FIFA Executive Committee decided to suspend the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) as of today … following the governmental decree passed on May 20 which dissolved the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and all national sport federations, including the IFA,” FIFA said in a statement.
“The FIFA Executive Committee also decided … the case of the Iraqi Football Association would be presented to the FIFA Congress on May 30 for suspension until the FIFA Congress in 2009, namely one year.
“However, the suspension decided upon today may be lifted if FIFA receives by May 29, midnight (Sydney time), written confirmation from the Iraqi government that the decree has been annulled.”
In a bid to reverse FIFA’s decision, the Iraqi government notified the IFA on Monday that it was not affected by last week’s decree, although Baghdad stood by its decision to disband the administrative arm of the Iraqi Olympic Committee.
(Continue reading: Associated Press)