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Football match provokes diplomatic crisis between Algeria, Iraq

Tue, Sep. 11, 2018
CAIRO - 11 September 2018: A diplomatic crisis was sparked between Algeria and Iraq due to sectarian chants of Algerian football fans during the match that took place on Sept.10 between the Algiers Capital Union team and the Iraqi Air Force team.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry in its first official reaction expressed its anger and condemnation of the behavior of Algerian fans who attended the match as part of the Arab Championship. Such shameful attitude threatens the deep relationship between the two Arab countries, according to the Iraqi statement.

The ministry called onthe Algerian authorities to clarifythe events ofthe match, where the Algerian spectators chanted the name of executed President Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi foreign minister informed the Algerian Ambassador to Baghdad Abdul Qader bin Sha’aof the Iraqi government’s resentment against the chants and emphasized Algeria’s responsibility to protect Iraqi citizens in its territories. The minister asked bin Sha'ato end all provocative and sectarian actions during football matches.

The Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a statement asking its Algerian counterpart to condemn the events of the match held in Algiers and to apologize to the Iraqi Air Force club mission.

For his part, the head of the Iraqi Football Federation, Abdul KhaliqMassoud,resigned from his post as vice-president of the Arab Union for Football, and announced the withdrawal of Iraqi clubs from the Arab championship in case the Arab Football Federationdoes not take a firm stance against Algeria.

The Iraqi Air Force Club withdrew from match on Sunday at the Omar Hamadi Stadium during the Arab Club Championship.

The crisis occurred in the 72nd minute when the Iraqi Air Force team withdrew due to sectarian chants against the Iraqi people and cheers for the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The Emirati referee Mohamed Abdullah was forced to wait 15 minutes (the legal deadline)to confirm the withdrawal of the Iraqi Air Force team and announced the end of the game with the victory of the Algerian club which was qualified for the next round.

The Iraqi club’s website announced that "The Air Force club bus was besieged after the game and could not get out."

Waleed al-Zaidi, the vice-chairman of the Iraqi Air Force Club, stated: "the club will submit a formal complaint to the Arab Football Union against the team of the Algiers Capital Union."

Despite the absence of previous diplomatic crises provoked during football games between Algeria and Iraq, such incidence occurred before between the Algerian Football Team and the Egyptian National Team.

There were disturbances before and after the two matches between Egypt and Algeria in November 2009, leading to serious diplomatic tensions between Egypt and Algeria. The matches were in group C of the CAF qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The first match took place in Cairo on November 14, with Egypt winning 2–0. The result left Egypt and Algeria tied for the first place in Group C, necessitating a playoff match in a neutral country. This took place in Omdurman, Sudan on November 18, with Algeria winning 1–0 and thus qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa in June 2010.
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