Iraq is hosting the Arabian Gulf Cup 2023, its first such major tournament in decades.
A Kuwaiti delegation attending the opening ceremony of the Arabian Gulf Cup in Iraq withdrew from the stadium after a clash broke out on Friday.
The delegation, headed by the Kuwaiti emir’s representative and head of the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee, Sheikh Fahd Al-Nasser, was filmed leaving the venue in the southern city of Basra after viral footage showed a fist fight at the stadium.
Reports said the chaos was triggered after unauthorised fans stormed into the VIP section of the stadium.
Sources told local Kuwaiti media that security forces inside the venue were unable to control the flare up, forcing the delegation to withdraw over security concerns.
The delegation reportedly headed back to the airport to return to Kuwait, according to Kuwaiti outlet Al Qabas.
Kuwait is due to play its first game at the Arabian Gulf Cup on Saturday, facing off against Qatar.
First tournament in decades
Iraq was prohibited from hosting international games over security concerns until a ban was lifted by FIFA last year. The Arabian Gulf Cup 2023 is the first such major sporting event to be held in the country in at least four decades.
The opening ceremony was held ahead of the first match between Iraq and Oman at the Basra International Stadium, where thousands of fans watched on with excitement.
With all eyes on Iraq after a successful World Cup in nearby Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino attended the opening ceremony, joined by chief of Qatar Olympic Committee Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, Iraq’s President of the Football Association Adnan Darjal, as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani.