Iraq ready to host the 22nd Gulf Cup
The head of the Iraqi Football Delegation in Bahrain revealed to reporters that Iraq is completely ready to host the 22nd Gulf Cup in 2015
In a press conference held in Bahrain on January 9th, Issam Diwan, head of the Iraqi football delegation in Bahrain, discussed Iraq's bid to host the upcoming 22nd Gulf Cup in the southern city of Basra with an air of joy and optimism.
Iraq was supposed to host the 21st Gulf Cup, which is currently been held in Bahrain, but due to security issues, the Sports Officials and the Technical Committee in the Gulf Countries decided to move the event to Bahrain.
"The technical teams paid visits to Basra city several times and said positive things about the sports city in Basra. But all of a sudden they changed their mind and decided to move the Cup to Bahrain. I am not saying it was an unfair decision but I’d rather respect their decision," explained Diwan.
He added "On behalf of the Government and the people of Iraq, I would like to thank the brotherly people of Bahrain for the successful way they have hosted the competition. Now we regard, as part of the Organizers of the contests that the success of the event is also ours,"
Diwan also urged Arab countries to support Iraq in its fight to lift the sports ban imposed on the country.
Concerning the latest developments of Basra Sports City, Diwan said "in the near future we will open Basra Sports City's Nakhla Jazie Stadium that can hold 65,000 spectators. The pitch is supposedly better than those hosted the London Olympic Games in terms of architecture and sports specification."
According to Diwan, inside Basra Sports city there is another stadium that can hold 10,000 spectators and will be completed soon.
Another stadium which is currently under construction is Mina Sports Club Stadium that can hold 30,000 spectators. The stadium is surrounded by four other small stadiums which will be used solely for training sessions and each one can hold 500 spectators.
In addition to the stadiums, the complex will also have VIP lounges and restaurants, spectator facilities, 205 VIP underground parking stalls and a tunnel connecting the main stadium to the secondary stadium.
The construction of the complex was started on 15 July 2009 and is expected to be completed this year. The city is funded by the government of Iraq with an allocated budget of $550 million dollars, covering the main stadium with a capacity of 65,000 people, a secondary stadium with a capacity of 10,000, four Five Stars hotels and other sports related facilities.
Diwan denied there is any security concern in Basra because of the circumstances surrounding Iraq, noting that no country is completely safe.
"I don't want to compare Basra with other cities in the world, but I do not see any security issues in Basra. There may be some demonstrations and bombings at times but we witness these things in many other places in other countries as well. We see these things like any country in the world, take America and Spain that are not free of terrorist attacks or bombings," he noted.
Diwan, who is also the Sports and Youth Deputy Minister, said "we would apologize if we are unable to host the 22nd Gulf Cup and will let our brothers in the other countries compete for the hosting. We have allocated a huge budget for the event, all the works are supposed to be completed in Basra by March. The Technical Committee will pay a visit to the city after the completion of the Gulf Cup in Bahrain, and, God willing, the committee will make a positive decision."
Adding his voice to the support, Raad Hammoudi, head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, said that Iraq is ready to host the 22nd Gulf Cup and is not afraid of competition with any country to succeed in organizing the tournament.
"We never think about losing the event at all. We sought to host 21st Gulf Cup but we didn't host it. Anyway, we are now ready for the next installment and to embrace this important event," said Hammoudi.
Finally, he requested sports officials from the Gulf States to support Iraq in order to ensure that the next event will be held in Basra.
A view of Basra football stadium which under construction.