(Reuters) - Two AFC Cup matches involving Iraqi clubs have been postponed until April in the hope that FIFA will lift a ban on the country hosting competitive international games, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday.
Al Zawraa were scheduled to host Bahraini side Manama Club on Tuesday, while Air Force Club’s home game against Malkiya of Bahrain was to be held a week later.
The AFC and the participating clubs had given their consent to stage fixtures in Iraq but FIFA are yet to allow the country to host competitive club fixtures of Asian tournaments.
“FIFA have emphasised that the lifting of the ban on playing matches in Iraq applies only for international friendly matches and that the AFC Cup matches are not friendly games and therefore cannot be staged in Iraq without a change in the current ruling by the FIFA Council,” the AFC said in a statement.
“As the next FIFA Council is to be held on March 15-16, 2018, the AFC, in order to provide the Iraqi clubs with an opportunity to play the matches on home soil and in accordance with the AFC Cup Regulations 2018 (Article7.3) have decided to postpone the affected matches until April 16 and 17, 2018.”
The AFC said it would decide venues for the two matches after the FIFA Council considers the issue in their next meeting.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford