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FIFA ´provisionally´ lifts Iraq soccer ban

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 May 2008

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Football's world governing body FIFA on Thursday “provisionally and conditionally” lifted its 12-month ban on Iraq taking part in international competition.

A FIFA spokesman said it had received correspondence from the Iraqi government saying the Iraq Football Association (IFA) was not part of a decree last week that dissolved the Iraq National Olympic Committee (NOC).

The provisional removal of the ban appeared to allow Sunday's World Cup qualifier between Australia and Iraq in Brisbane to go ahead as scheduled.

A statement released just before the FIFA Congress opening ceremony in Sydney said the ban's removal was only conditional and issues surrounding the Iraqi government's decree were yet to be clarified.

“The FIFA Emergency Committee has today decided to provisionally and conditionally lift the suspension imposed on the Iraq Football Association on May 26 due to serious government interference,” the statement said.

FIFA welcomed a letter from the Iraqi government confirming the IFA was exempted from the decree.

“This letter is a positive step, however it does not fully answer all of FIFA's concerns about the governmental attempts to control the Iraqi federations and the Iraqi National Olympic Committee,” it said.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief Ben Buckley, whose organisation faced significant financial loss if the Brisbane game was cancelled, said the development was “great news.”

“We're truly delighted that the Iraqi government, the IFA and FIFA have sorted out the issues between them and the Socceroos and Iraq can get on the field to play this important World Cup qualifying match on Sunday,” he said in a statement.

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