Last updated: 2 June, 2013

Top Iraqi club coach quits fearing Baghdad attacks

The manager of Iraq’s top local football side quit on Sunday after refusing to travel to Baghdad over a spike in violence that has sparked fears of a return to all-out sectarian war.

Rodion Gacanin and Arbil FC agreed to a mutual termination of the Croatian coach’s contract more than halfway through the season as the team looks to defend its football league title and go on to win its fifth in six years.

“The coach told us that he could not stay in his position because of the daily violence in the capital,” Arbil FC president Abdullah Majid told AFP.

“We suggested that he accompany the team for the matches in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities by aeroplane, or that he be personally accompanied with security measures, but he insisted on leaving.”

In addition to dual car bombs that struck a short distance from Baghdad’s national stadium on Monday, Majid said Gacanin pointed in particular to a car bomb near another football club’s grounds on Thursday.

Attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq have risen sharply, with May the country’s deadliest month since 2008, as persistent political rows have given fuel and room for militant groups to up their activities.