Iraq tries to make peace

SYDNEY - Iraq made last-ditch diplomatic attempts yesterday to persuade Fifa to lift its international ban and allow the national team's World Cup qualifier against Australia to go ahead on Sunday.

SYDNEY - Iraq made last-ditch diplomatic attempts yesterday to persuade Fifa to lift its international ban and allow the national team's World Cup qualifier against Australia to go ahead on Sunday.

The Iraqi government told soccer's governing body it had not disbanded the national football federation, a move which would have breached Fifa rules aimed at preventing governmental interference in the sport.

A Fifa spokesman confirmed the association had received official notice from Baghdad yesterday, just over 24 hours before the deadline to lift their suspension was due to expire.

"We have received a correspondence from the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of Iraq," the spokesman said. "We are analysing the correspondence. It is too early to speculate on what will happen."

But Fawzi Akram, a member of the Iraqi parliament's sport and youth committee, said he was confident the suspension would be lifted and Sunday's match would proceed.

"Fifa asked the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to confirm in a letter that the Iraqi Soccer Federation is not included in the suspension," he said, reading a statement.

"Since all the sports federations are not included in the original [decision] issued by the Council of Ministers, the Council of Ministers wrote Fifa a letter showing this and, in the wake of that, Fifa has decided that the Iraqi team's match against Australia may go ahead."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said by dissolving the national Olympic committee, Iraq had dissolved all sports federations. - Reuters

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