FIFA ready to suspend Iraq for political meddling
FIFA is preparing to suspend Iraq from world football after it missed a deadline to restore the national federation. Football's world governing body said Friday that the Iraqi Olympic committee's time limit to reinstate the disbanded football federation had expired overnight and the matter has now been referred to the FIFA Emergency Committee, which can order a suspension. FIFA rules require full independence of national associations from political interference. Iraq's Olympic committee dissolved the Iraqi Football Association on Monday for alleged financial and administrative irregularities as well as the repeated delaying of internal elections. Iraqi Olympic board member Samir al-Moussawi said Friday the committee expected such a response from FIFA and was standing by its decision. "We will continue our contacts with FIFA officials and we will provide them with evidence to support our claims," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. "Anyhow, Iraqi football teams have no international activities in the next three months and we hope that during this period we will be able to resolve our differences with FIFA." FIFA has called the committee's decision to dissolve the federation "incomprehensible" and said it "stands in total contradiction with (Iraqi federation) and FIFA statutes." No timetable has been set for a ruling from the emergency panel, which is chaired by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Iraqi football has had a troubled relationship with FIFA since its popularity peaked with a victory in the 2007 Asian Cup. Last year, FIFA imposed a ban on Iraqi teams after the government dissolved the national Olympic committee, along with all sports federations. The ban threatened Iraq's participation in World Cup qualifiers but was lifted after the government assured FIFA that soccer was excluded from the decision. Last month, FIFA granted the Iraq Football Association until April 30, 2010, to adopt new statutes and elect a new board, stressing that the process had to be independent and free of government interference.