After hosting the Arabian Gulf Cup on home grounds, Iraq is now looking to become a destination for sports
Iraq is keen on expanding its sports hosting resume with eyes set on the 2027 Asian Cup, the country’s top footballing chief said following the end of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
Iraq’s Football Association President (IFA) Adnan Dirjal said the new era of stability is an opportunity to invite the 2027 Asian Cup into the county.
Unhitched from a decades-long FIFA ban, Dirjal and several of Iraq’s governing bodies believe the country has what it takes to bid for the Asian Cup alongside the likes of Saudi Arabia, the sole remaining bidder for the tournament.
The Governor of Basra Asaad Al-Eidani threw his support behind Dirjal’s intentions as he pointed out the achievements of the Arabian Gulf Cup as a reason for an Asian Cup bid.
“Iraq has become safe and deserves a lot, and this is proven by the current championship, which recorded a high success rate, and we must strive to host the Asian Championship in Iraq,” Al-Eidani told Iraqi News Agency.
“Iraq broke a record in public attendance during the Gulf Championship in its 25th edition, compared to all previous editions in other Gulf countries,” the governor added.
“Saudi Arabia is the only country to host the Asian Championship in 2027, and there may be a partnership between Iraq and Saudi Arabia to host this tournament, and Iraq may host it alone.”
In December last year, Saudi Arabia became the last remaining bidder to host the 2027 Asian Cup after India’s federation withdrew its bid.
The bidding process for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup will be concluded by February this year and could witness a co-hosting between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Conveniently for the Iraqis, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani on organising the Arabian Gulf Cup, the Saudi Gazette reported.
“On the occasion of the success of the Republic of Iraq in organising the 25th Arab Gulf Football Championship and winning its Cup by the Iraqi national team,” bin Salman said.
“I have the pleasure to send to Your Excellency my sincere congratulations and best wishes for further achievements and to the fraternal people of Iraq further progress and prosperity,” he added.
Thousands of football fans from around the region flocked to Iraq last month to attend the Arabian Gulf Cup, which topped off with host country Iraq securing the title – its first since 1988.
While visiting fans noted the “overwhelming” hospitality of the Iraqis across Basra, crowd control emerged as a major issue on the day of the final after a stampede killed one person.
Iraqi football fans keen on watching their national team play-off in the final against Oman flooded the stadium grounds in a bid to get a seat at the venue, despite many not having tickets.