Lift the ban on playing home football matches in Iraq
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Football, to Iraqi people, is one of the strongest forces of unity that no two Iraqis will disagree on the love of that game. Iraq has a culture for football; some of its clubs are as old as the modern history of the country itself. People are passionate about their clubs, and the national team is itself an identity in Iraq.
But since the 2003 war started, Iraq has been unable to play competitive football games on home soil. This was understandable then and perhaps until now. However, times are changing in Iraq towards the better. The recent opening of one of the best sports complexes in the Middle East, the Basra Sports City/Basra International Stadium, and the news just in that a brand new football stadium will be built in Baghdad in the coming years with a capacity to host 100,000 fans, are true and spectacular witnesses of the changing times. Iraq has hosted already a number of successful international friendlies in Basra, the last of which was against Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
Although, FIFA has allowed Iraq to host friendly matches, the organisation has still forced the country to play its home matches in international competitions in other countries like Iran, Jordan and the UAE. This is truly unfair and unhelpful to the growing spirit of unity among the people of the country, brought together by the love of this game.
In its darkest hour, in 2007, Iraq was being ravaged by a civil war and thousands of people were being killed in the country every month. Despite these circumstances, the Iraqi national team stood high and won the Asian Cup that year. No other nation has ever achieved such a sport feat given the dark circumstances the country was passing through. The question now is, has the time not come, for all of us, to acknowledge that this team deserves finally some respect? That the country should be allowed to unite around its beloved game, on its own home soil, once again?
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