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Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 07:35 UK

Fifa relaxes Iraqi World Cup ban

Iraqi captain Younis Mahmoud holds aloft the Asian Cup
Iraq celebrate last year's Asian Cup win over Saudi Arabia

Iraq's World Cup qualifier against Australia will go ahead on Sunday after Fifa provisionally overturned a ban on the Iraqi Football Association.

A one-year suspension was imposed after Iraq disbanded its Olympic Committee and national sport federations.

But a letter sent to Fifa from the country's government confirmed that the IFA would not be affected.

"FIFA has lifted the suspension imposed on the IFA, but on a provisional and conditional basis," read a statement.

"Iraq are the Asian champions and brought so much hope and joy to their country when they won the final in Malaysia last year.

Sepp Blatter
Football's world governing body still have concerns about the governments' attempts to control the country's sports federations and said the ban could be re-instated if their rules are violated again.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said earlier that he hoped the ban would lead the Iraqi government to change their mind in time for Iraq to continue their qualification campaign.

Blatter told The Australian newspaper: "Iraq are the Asian champions and brought so much hope and joy to their country when they won the final in Malaysia last year.

"I am confident there is enough pressure on the government to help them change their mind."

Iraq are set to play Australia in Brisbane on 1 June and in Dubai on 7 June.

The Socceroos are top of Group One of the Asia qualifying section with four points from two games. Iraq are bottom with one point from two games.


see also
Iraq set to launch Akram appeal
31 Jan 08 |  Man City
Iraq celebrates football victory
29 Jul 07 |  Middle East
Iraqi leaders honour footballers
04 Aug 07 |  Middle East
Iraq 1-0 Saudi Arabia
29 Jul 07 |  Internationals


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