Former Iraqi footballer Sharar Haydar talks exclusively to World Football's Mike Geddes about his escape from torture and the future of football in Iraq...
Uday Hussein (right) was in charge of Iraqi football
I met Sharar Haydar in London, his adopted home since his defection from Iraq in 1998.
He told me that he and his team-mates in the Iraqi national team had suffered years of systematic torture by Uday Hussein, the son of the former leader Saddam.
During the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup, Sharar decided he couldn't take the pressure of playing under the threat of torture any longer. But he told me that Uday Hussein had other ideas.
"The secret police came to my house and took me from my bed at 2.30 in the morning, my parents were crying, because they didn't think I was going to come back" he said.
"They took me to the Olympic Committee and Uday spoke with me over the phone.
He asked me 'why don't you want to play for the great Iraqi team?' I said I had been playing for many years and was too ill to play.
"I said 'let your doctors examine me and if they say I can play I will, and if he says I can't I will not'. And Uday said 'I will show you whether you can play or not'. So he gave the orders to his bodyguards and they took me to the prison at Al-Radwaniya.
"They took me there for a month, and I was beaten on the soles of my feet twenty times a day and tortured. My food was just a piece of bread and a glass of water each day for thirty days. After this I was told I was forbidden from playing football or attending games anywhere".
Fifa conducted an investigation into the allegations and announced they had found no evidence of torture - something Sharar finds unsurprising.
"To be honest, it makes me laugh" he told me. "They just put on a theatre show to make it look as though they had done something.
"They tried to ask the Iraqi players the truth but how did they expect them to speak out when they were in fear for their families living in Baghdad?"
The man appointed by Fifa to set up an interim committee to rebuild sport in Iraq asked Sharar to be president. But when Sharar returned to Iraq recently he told me he found some familiar faces.
"When I went into the meeting room I found all the old faces, all the old member of the Ba'ath party" he said.
"So I told this to the Americans in charge there. They said that if they were to rebuild Iraqi football quickly they couldn't get rid of all the old people, which is absolutely right, but those people - until the fall of Baghdad they were working with Uday Hussein! So I told them this and they were unhappy and decided I was a troublemaker.
"I was fighting against Uday for five years, and now I find myself in the same position now Saddam has gone" said Sharar.
"I have to keep fighting against those people. But I can't fight alone. I need support from the International Olympic Committee, from the Council of Asia, from the Football Association in England. They can't leave the situation like this its not fair.
"I won't give up because it is a big responsibility on my shoulders. So we will keep fighting. I'm not sure we will win, but we will keep fighting".
You can hear all of Mike Geddes' interview with Sharar Haydar on World Football on Saturday 05 July. Use the audio link on the front page.