FIFA has asked the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) to nominate a neutral venue for Iraq national team’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers tie against IR Iran to be played on November 14.
The Group C fixture in the qualification event was originally scheduled to be held at the Basra Sports City, but the FIFA has intervened to move the fixture away from Iraq following the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in the country.
“As you are aware, FIFA and AFC have been closely monitoring the safety and security situation in Iraq in the last number of weeks. In doing so, both parties had expressed a shared hope for a gradual normalisation of the security situation ahead of the hosting of the upcoming qualifying fixture against IR Iran and Bahrain respectively,” FIFA chief of tournaments and events officer Colin Smith wrote in a letter to the IFA.
“Unfortunately, events earlier this week have confirmed a significant deterioration of the overall security situation, rendering the circumstances on the group incompatible with the hosting of he scheduled fixtures in Iraq,” he wrote in the letter addressed to IFA acting general secretary Tariq A Ali.
“FIFA therefore kindly requests the IFA to nominate a neutral venue outside Iraq for the hosting of these two official qualifying matches by Thursday 7 November 2019,” the letter said.
Iraq were also to play Bahrain, who they are tied on seven points at the top of the Group, at Basra on November 19. Team Melli, who suffered a shock defeat to Bahrain last month, are third in the group with six points while Hong Kong and Cambodia follow a point apiece.
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