Iraqi association dissolves soccer team
The Iraqi Football Association has dissolved the national soccer team and dismissed the Iraqi coach after a loss to Qatar four days ago ended the country's hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"It was decided to disband the team, with all its players and coaching staff, including (head coach) Adnan Hamad," the association said in a statement.
Tareq Ahmed, a senior federation official, told The Associated Press that Hamad "is no longer useful to our team."
The Iraqi team needed only a draw to reach the final qualification, but instead lost to Qatar 1-0 last Sunday.
Iraqi fans, who were poised for street celebrations if their team won, were angered by the unconvincing and weak performance of the team during the match.
In the statement, the IFA called upon the government to increase financial support in order to pay for top foreign coaching talent.
Many Iraqis believe that the soccer team was demoralized by a bitter fight between the government and the country's Olympic committee and sports federations. The Iraqi government last month dissolved the Iraqi Olympic Committee, alleging corruption. The International Olympic Committee responded by suspending Iraq's national Olympic body for "political interference."
Hamad was appointed to coach the national team in February, taking over from Norwegian Egil Olsen after another disappointing Iraqi performance in World Cup qualifications.
Iraq has not played a game in its war-torn country in years. Because of the kidnapping and killing of athletes in various sports, the squad trains abroad, mostly in Gulf nations such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
It was not immediately clear if or how Iraq would rebuild its national squad.