Kurdish man elected as chief of Iraqi Football Association
Iraq's football association finally chose a new president on Saturday, potentially staving off threats of indefinite suspension from the sport's global governing body after multiple postponements of the polls.
IFA board elections have long been plagued by chaos and allegations of political meddling, with polls originally held in July 2011 marred by claims of malpractice, while efforts in recent months to finally hold a new vote have been blighted by multiple delays and apparent threats of violence.
The never-ending crises, which mirror the standoffs and deadlocks in Iraq's national politics, have overshadowed a rare issue with cross-sectarian appeal in a country grappling with fragile communal ties amid deteriorating security.
General committee members – the heads of local clubs, provincial sports officials and others – voted 42-33 in favor of promoting current vice president Abdulkhaliq Massud, a Kurd, over keeping incumbent IFA chief Najeh Hmoud in place.
The multiple delays spurred world football's governing body Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation to warn that if the polls were not held by the end of May, the IFA faced "immediate and indefinite suspension".
Fifa and the AFC also alleged in a letter that in the lead-up to the planned April vote, "the AFC representative received threatening phone calls during his mission."
The newly appointed chief of Iraqi Football Association, Abdulkhaliq Masoud