Anti-Government Protests Put Iraqi Hosting of Gulf Cup in Question
Soccer officials from the Gulf states and Yemen will visit the Iraqi port city of Basra to inspect its preparations for the hosting of the Gulf Cup in 2013, according to Al Arabiya.
The visit comes amid increasingly strained relations between Iraq and several Gulf states because of Iraqi criticism of the Bahraini crackdown on predominantly Shiite anti-government protesters and the intervention of Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) troops in Bahrain.
Gulf soccer officials say security will be a particular focus of their inspection. The Iraqi organizer’s of the cup are expected to report on their security measures prior to the visit.
Basra is half way in putting the necessary infrastructure for the tournament in place. It has a 65,000-seat and a 10,000-seat stadium.
Some Gulf states would like to see the 2013 Gulf Cup moved from Basra to Bahrain in a bid to punish Iraq for its support of the Bahraini opposition and boost Bahrain’s tarnished international image.
The secretary of Bahrain’s soccer federation Abd el-Rahman Sayar suggested he may not be able to join the inspection team because flights between Bahrain and Iraq have been cancelled as a result of the Bahraini turmoil.