ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Preparations are complete to guarantee a successful continuation of the 2019 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship in the Kurdistan Regional capital, the head of the Iraqi Football Federation, Abdul-Khaliq Masoud, said on Sunday.
Erbil’s Franso Hariri Stadium is set to host two international matches on Sunday evening. The first is between Jordan and Bahrain at 7:30 p.m. local time followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at 10:30 p.m.
“We have completed all preparations ahead of the matches this evening to ensure the games are successful,” Masoud told Kurdistan 24. “We thank the Kurdistan Regional Government for their cooperation and help in ensuring a speedy completion.”
Members of teams participating in the 2019 WAFF Championship arrived in Erbil on Friday.
Related Article: International footballers arrive in Erbil for WAFF Championship
Masoud noted that this is the first major tournament held in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region since the Gulf War in 1991.
“All the teams who have arrived in the Kurdistan Region capital are comfortable and feel safe in Kurdistan,” he stated.
Group A of the tournament, which includes Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Lebanon, are playing their matches at Karbala International Stadium. Group B, playing in Erbil, is made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan.
The first match in Karbala was marred by controversy after local religious conservatives condemned the opening ceremony of the game for including a female instrumentalist playing the Iraqi national anthem on a violin while three other performers – two of them female – danced.
Among the critics was former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who claimed the performance was indecent and stained the sanctity of the city, considered holy to Shia Muslims.
(Additional reporting by Derbaz Ahmed)