Last updated: 24 November, 2013

FIFA calls for new Iraq football vote

World football’s governing body has told Iraq’s embattled football association to hold leadership elections next year after a court ruled the last vote involved multiple problems, an Iraqi football official said.

“On Friday, we received an official notice from FIFA recommending the new elections be held on January 20,” Iraqi Football Association (IFA) Vice President Abdulkhaliq Massud told AFP.

“We are waiting for additional recommendations from both FIFA and the Asian association regarding the supervision of these elections,” he added, referring to the Asian Football Confederation.

FIFA’s decision comes after contested IFA elections in 2011, and amid a string of negative news for sport in football-mad Iraq.

They range from decisions earlier this year to bar the country from hosting international friendlies to the increased targeting of football pitches by militant groups carrying out attacks.

The decision was made after a ruling by the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, an international court that settles sports-related disputes, after claimants alleged multiple problems with the IFA’s last leadership elections in June 2011.

The claims were made by IFA general committee members including defeated candidate Falah Hassan, and ranged from accusations that the IFA failed to hold a preparatory meeting prior to the elections and violated FIFA rules regarding the election of new committee members.

As a result, FIFA has mandated that the IFA hold new elections on January 20 for the 11-member executive committee, which includes the president and two vice presidents.

The IFA is currently headed by Najeh Hmoud, who won the disputed 2011 elections over Hassan, a candidate who was unofficially backed by the government.

Although FIFA insists that football must be free of politics, in Iraq politics permeates nearly everything, especially football.

In July, FIFA also barred Iraq from hosting international football friendlies due to a surge in violence, reversing a decision three months earlier to allow the country to host such matches.