AFC President welcomes FIFA decision to allow Iraq to play home matches in Basra
Kuala Lumpur: Asian Football Confederation President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa on Wednesday hailed FIFA's decision to approve Iraqi city Basra to host Iraq national team matches in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Shaikh Salman explained that the decision is in line with the FIFA Council's endorsement to lift the ban on hosting international matches in Iraq last year and the AFC President added that the latest decision - delivered in a letter from FIFA President Gianni Infantino - is a "great achievement for Iraqi football, and will be a great support for the development efforts for the game in the country."
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The AFC President also congratulated the Iraq Football Association and the entire Iraqi football family, remarking that FIFA approval to play Iraq Asian Qualifiers matches in Basra, was the result of the great efforts from all official bodies in Iraq.
In recent times Iraq had hosted several Continental and regional events, which includes the recent West Asian Football Federation Championship, which impressed FIFA, and last year's AFC Cup final as well as AFC Champions League matches this season.
Shaikh Salman also stressed that the AFC has always supported Iraqi requests to host official international matches because the Confederation believes in developing football in the country as well as supporting an important member of the Confederation.
He said: "We worked to support the great efforts in Iraq, represented by the Ministry of Sport and Iraq Football Association, as we approved during the recent months to host AFC Champions League and AFC Cup matches in Iraq.
"The AFC also decided to appoint Iraq as the host of their group for the 2020 AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers, as the AFC was happy to act on FIFA's decision to end the ban of international matches in Iraq," he added.
The AFC President also expressed his confidence that Iraq will be able to provide all the necessary infrastructure and logistics to make Iraq matches a great success in the Asian Qualifiers and wished the Iraq FA and other stakeholders the best in demonstrating that the country deserves to host high level football events.
Iraq's first home match in the Asian Qualifiers will be against Hong Kong on October 10, 2019 - following the green light from the FIFA President who wrote: "FIFA conducted an assessment visit during the 9th WAFF Championships as well as an overall risk assessment. As a result Basra can be nominated as a host venue for the official qualification matches."
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