Iraqis arrive in Australia to play banned football match

May 28th, 2008 - 1:39 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 28 (DPA) The Iraqi football team arrived in Australia Wednesday hoping the World Cup qualifying match against Australia will go ahead in Brisbane at the weekend. World football supreme Joseph Blatter suspended Iraq Monday, giving Baghdad a Thursday deadline to rescind the Iraqi government’s decree dissolving all the nation’s official sports bodies.

The Iraqi government has until Thursday night to relent. Iraq coach Adnan Hamad said he was confident the impasse would be broken.

“This is very important for us, for our people in Iraq and we hope we play that match,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Blatter, speaking earlier in the week in Sydney in advance of the Federation International Football Association (FIFA) Congress, predicted Baghdad would back down. “I’m optimistic,” Blatter said. “I think they will play in the end.”

Cancelling Sunday’s match with the Asian champions would cost Football Federation Australia (FFA) an estimated $2.8 million in lost gate receipts. The compensation would be an easier passage to the 2010 finals in South Africa.

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