The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa offered his congratulations to the Iraq Football Federation (IFF) on the return of international competitive club football to the country.
FIFA lifted its ban on competitive games in three cities in Iraq – Erbil, Basra and Karbala – on March 16, 2018, and as Shaikh Salman said: “This was a decision that the AFC actively supported and welcomes.
“I visited Basra in February for the 4-1 win against Saudi Arabia and I said then that the time had come for the lifting of the ban and I am delighted the FIFA Council agreed. Now we have another considerable milestone with the return of AFC Cup matches to the country in the next few days.”
The AFC Competitions Committee had agreed the postponement of the AFC Cup Group Stage (West) matches involving Al Zawraa Club and Bahrain’s Manama Club scheduled for March 6, 2018, and Iraq’s Air Force Club and Malkiya Club of Bahrain to have been played on March 13, 2018, until after the FIFA decision.
Now both these games can take place next week, while Lebanon’s Al Ahed will travel to Karbala tomorrow (April 10) for the Group B match against Al Zawraa at the Karbala International Stadium. The re-arranged games will take place on April 16 and April 17.
On April 24, Air Force Club will also play Al Suwaiq of Oman, again at the Karbala International Stadium in Karbala.
Shaikh Salman added: “I also commend the AFC Competitions Committee for its vision and wisdom in making a decision to postpone the matches from their original date until after the FIFA Council met. That initiative means that these matches can now go ahead on Iraqi soil.