Officials plan Socceroo alternatives after Iraq ban Print E-mail
Written by AAP   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 16:04

Australian soccer authorities have begun contingency planning in case Sunday's World Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Iraq in Brisbane does not go ahead.

Football governing body FIFA last night suspended Iraq and warned it would be banned from international football for 12 months unless the Iraqi government reinstates the Iraq Football Association by midnight (AEST) on Thursday.

The Iraqi government last week dissolved all national sport federations, including the soccer association.

The move has left both the Socceroos and the Iraq squad in limbo as they prepare for Sunday's near sellout game at Suncorp Stadium and the return match in Dubai on June 7.

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley says scrapping the Brisbane game would cost it about $2 million in gate receipts alone.

"If it doesn't go ahead we're starting to work on some contingencies for the way we would prepare ourselves for the following match," he told AAP.

"I'm sure that the coaching staff and the support staff will come up with an appropriate plan if that's what happens.

"At this stage we are hopeful that the issue will be resolved and the game goes ahead.

"The entire squad and all the coaching staff are just focused on playing the game. That's all they can do."

Buckley said all tickets will be refunded if the game is scrapped.

But he said it would be very disruptive for the team, despite the fact that the Socceroos would be gifted six points and that would almost certainly advance them to the next phase of Asian World Cup qualifying.

"All of our planning and thinking and preparation has gone into that program," Buckley said.

"We still have two games to play to complete this phase and our focus has always been getting through to the next round."

He said the FFA had not been in contact with its counterpart in Iraq.

"It's not an issue for the FFA. We don't want to be involved in an issue between a member association government and a member association itself.

"It's entirely out of the FFA's hands."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 16:46