Iraq Football Association has proposed Jordan to host its 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup qualifiers, after FIFA requested an alternative venue because of ongoing protests, officials said Wednesday.
Iraq had been due to play the two games in Basra — against Iran on November 14 and Bahrain on November 19— but the southern port city has been caught up in the anti-government demonstrations that have swept Baghdad and the south.
“Jordan was chosen to host the matches against Bahrain and Iran,” Abdelkhaleq Masud, the head of Iraq’s football federation, told AFP on Wednesday.
The proposal must now be approved by FIFA.
Earlier, the Iraqi federation’s deputy head said FIFA had requested it move the games outside the country.
“FIFA informed us late Tuesday night that we must choose a new place, an alternative outside Iraq, for the scheduled match with Iran by Wednesday,” Ali Jabbar told AFP.
A statement from FIFA said it had assessed “the current security situation in Iraq” and informed the local federation that upcoming matches “must be played on neutral ground.”
“The Iraqi Football Association has been requested to nominate a neutral venue for the said matches, which is subject to confirmation by FIFA and the AFC,” it said.
Iraq tops its group for Asia Cup qualification with seven points, leading Bahrain on goal difference, while Iran holds third spot with six points.
Hong Kong and Cambodia each have one point.
(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)