Iraqi football ‘needs peace’

16th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

16 December 2003 , BASEL - The world governing body, FIFA, had sent an important political signal by giving Iraq's national football team the Presidential award, the country's German coach, Bernd Stange said.

16 December 2003

BASEL - The world governing body, FIFA, had sent an important political signal by giving Iraq's national football team the Presidential award, the country's German coach, Bernd Stange said.


At Monday's function, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that: When one of our members experiences a period as trying as that endured by Iraqi football, it is FIFAs duty to step up its support.

"That is the principle of solidarity that I talk about so often, which constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of the House of FIFA.

"FIFA has simply acknowledged the eagerness of the entire international football family to recognise the courage of Iraqs footballers," Blatter said.

Stange, who has been in charge of the Iraqi national team since November last year, said that it was an important signal that FIFA had sent.

"After many years of bad news out of Iraq - three wars, a 12-year embargo, dying children - football has a huge chance of bringing good news into the world.

The 55-year-old was criticised earlier when he took on the job of coaching the side under the FA's head, Udai Hussein - the now deceased son of the former dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Stange left the country when the US invasion started, but returned immediately the war had ended to start with the building-up of the national team.

"It is impossible to play football in Baghdad. Neither international games, nor domestic league matches. We tried to, but all the violence and shootings forced us to stop."

Stange said that he is now attempting to take the side to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. "Those who saw the conditions in Iraq - no showers, no physios, with everything missing - are surprised that we are hoping to qualify for Germany.

"I am hoping that peace will come back and that we can bring good football back to the country."

In the preliminary round for Germany 2006, Iraq were drawn into a group with Uzbekistan, Palestine and Taiwan and Stange says he is confident that the team will advance to the next round.

"In Baghdad the side is very strong and we are hoping to be able to play there towards the end of next year. The team should soon become one of the strongest in the region and then a second appearance at the finals after 1986 is a distinct possibility."

And that, for Stange, is something that he is aiming for.

DPA
Subject: German news

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