Iraq urges FIFA to end three-decade home internationals ban

Iraq wants FIFA to lift its ban on competitive home internationals, the country's sports minister has said.

The ban was imposed following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but the Iraqi authorities hope that the hosting of Gulf football friendlies in renovated grounds will mean it can be lifted entirely.

The FIFA ban, which covered everything except local matches, was lifted in 2012 but reimposed after a match between Iraq and Jordan was hit by a power outage.

It has been relaxed to allow Iraq to host international friendlies in Arbil, Basra and Karbala since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State militants who had occupied areas in the north and west of the country.

Later this month, Basra will stage a friendly between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and Sports and Youth Minister Abdulhussein Abttan told AFP he hoped the ban could soon be lifted.

"Politics is present in every domain, and Saudi Arabia has major political weight," Abttan said.

"The presence of the Saudi team in Iraq means a lot to us."

"I hope that this match will inspire other national teams to visit Iraq, which will help support our case for a total lifting of FIFA's ban on matches in our stadiums.

"We are also counting on the teams of Bahrain, Qatar and Iran, all of which also have political influence in sports."