November 7, 2019 / 11:31 AM / 4 days ago

Soccer-Iraq choose Jordan to host home World Cup qualifiers

ZURICH, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Iraq will host this month’s two home World Cup qualifiers in Jordan after FIFA reimposed a ban on playing in their own country, the global soccer body said on Thursday.

Iraq played their first competitive match on home territory for eight years last month when they hosted Hong Kong in a World Cup qualifier in the southern city of Basra.

But FIFA said on Wednesday that this month’s matches against Iran and Bahrain must be played elsewhere because of the security situation in the country.

More than 260 people have been killed since the start of October in the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.

In an emailed statement to Reuters on Thursday, FIFA said it had agreed to a proposal from the Iraqi football association to play both matches in Amman. Iraq, whose only World Cup appearance was in 1986, will face Iran on Nov. 14 and Bahrain five days later. (Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Toby Davis)

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