SYDNEY, Australia – Iraq's soccer team was provisionally suspended from competition for one year by the sport's ruling body Monday due to the Iraqi government's decision to disband all national sports federations.
The FIFA executive committee imposed the ban on the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) following a governmental decree last week that also dissolved the Iraqi National Olympic Committee.
On the first day of its meetings in Sydney, FIFA said it would revoke the suspension if it received by Thursday "written confirmation from the Iraqi government that the decree has been annulled."
Iraq was due to play Australia in a World Cup qualifier at Brisbane on Sunday and was scheduled to arrive in the Queensland state capital late Tuesday from Thailand, where the team was training.
Earlier Monday, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said he remained confident Iraq would be able to fulfill its commitments, but did not rule out the possibility it would be suspended.
"We have asked the government to withdraw its decision against the Iraq Football Association and we believe the IOC has also made the same request and threatened the same punishment (suspension) as FIFA," Blatter told Australian newspapers.
Blatter said he "could not imagine that this belligerent situation" would lead to Iraq not taking part in the rest of the Asian World Cup qualifiers.
"Iraq are the Asian champions and brought so much hope and joy to their country when they won the final in Malaysia last year," he told The Australian newspaper. "I am confident there is enough pressure on the government to help them change their mind."