BAGHDAD - It was hailed around the world as a triumph of the spirit for a war-torn country but it seems Iraqis could not contain their joy after winning the Asian Cup football title in 2007.
The trophy was handed over to Qatari football bosses in Doha on Sunday, complete with dents inflicted during its journey around Iraq's 18 provinces after the team's victory in Indonesia in 2007.
"There was some damage to the trophy because of the happiness of the Iraqi people," said Najeh Hamud, vice president of the Iraqi Football Union. "It had been thrown around between some people on its travels."
Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win its first Asian Cup in the summer of 2007, but competition rules dictate that the winning side hand the trophy to the hosts of the next tournament well ahead of the competition.
Gas-rich Qatar will host the next Asian Cup in 2011.
"The Qatari Football Union will repair it," Hamud said. - Sapa-AFP