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Iraq says football association not sacked

SoccerNews in World Cup 28 May 2008

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Iraq's football governing body was not sacked under a decree that covered other sports, the government said on Wednesday in a move that could see them play its World Cup qualifier in Australia.

The Iraqi government said it never sacked the football federation and that it was also not covered by the “resolution 184” that dissolved the National Olympic Committee last week and sparked a controversy with FIFA.

FIFA had warned it would suspend Iraq from international competition for 12 months unless Baghdad reinstated the Iraq Football Association by 1400GMT on Thursday.

The Iraqi team is currently in Australia preparing for their qualifier on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's aide, Bassam al-Husseini, said he hoped the national team will play Australia after Baghdad sent a letter to FIFA confirming that the federation had not been sacked.

“The Iraqi Federation of Football is not covered by resolution 184 and it continues to engage in internal and external activities until the holding of elections,” Husseini said.

The Iraqis arrived in Australia late Tuesday after a friendly in Thailand where the Asian champions lost 2-1 after news of the developments back home broke.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had warned that Iraq must back down from 'political interference' in its national football federation so the team can play their World Cup qualifier.

However, he also added that he had a 'good feeling' that Iraq will play their match in Brisbane on Sunday.

The game was put in jeopardy after the world governing body took note of Baghdad's sacking of its national Olympic committee and several other sporting bodies.

FIFA's executive committee had given the Baghdad government the opportunity to revoke its decree by Friday before slapping a suspension on Iraq.

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