FIFA’s move to curb political interference in Iraq’s football has sent a strong message to the government in Baghdad, Iraq Football Association president Hussein Saeed said here Friday.
Saeed was at the heart of efforts to successfully persuade football’s world governing body to reverse a decision to suspend Iraq from competition, allowing their World Cup qualifier against Australia in Brisbane to proceed Sunday.
FIFA had given Baghdad a deadline of Thursday to reinstate the IFA after it dissolved the National Olympic Committee last week, or face a 12-month ban from international football.
The suspension was provisionally lifted after the Iraq government sent a letter to FIFA confirming that the federation had not been sacked.
Iraq, the reigning Asian champions, faced the threat of being kicked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, but Saeed said the national team was now focused on beating Australia this weekend.
“Our team had a bad psychology before they came to Australia, one week ago there was a problem between our Olympic committee and the government, but yesterday they practised earnestly,” Saeed told reporters during Friday’s FIFA Congress here.
“We have four more (group) matches to qualify for the World Cup and I think they will concentrate on the match and not on administrative matters.”
Saeed said FIFA’s decision to lift the ban had given more power to his country’s footballers.
“Now the (Iraqi) government knows the rules. Because somebody has given false information to the government that they can interfere in the sport and control the sport… now they know what the rules are,” he said.
Saeed said he hoped there would be no future problems of interference from the government with sports in his troubled country.
FIFA has warned Iraq that it may immediately re-impose the suspension if the relevant article of the FIFA Statutes was violated again.
The world body said it will invite a delegation consisting of the Asian Football Confederation, the IFA and representatives of the Iraqi government to Zurich as soon as possible to clarify all outstanding issues.
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