Iraq FA unravelling as noose tightens around neck of FA president

Najih Humoud’s leadership of the Iraq Football Association is in state of real quandary, with his vice president, and two other officials recently resigning and the general assembly on the verge of lodging a complaint against the President to FIFA, and not to mention the pending ruling of the CAS tribunal. Things are no better for the Association on the field, with the recent defeat in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifier in Amman placing Iraq’s qualification in the balance, and the Under 17s disappointing results at the FIFA World U-17 World Cup in Dubai. It seems everyone has it in for the FA president at the moment, the disgruntled fans, the players, revolting members of the FA, the Iraqi government and even former Iraqi coach Zico.

The FA President was in Dubai to watch the Leyoth play Sweden in their opening game, where despite a good early start were thumped 4-1 by the Swedes. After the loss, Najih Humoud admitted that the FA may have made an error in entering the Under 17s in the AFC U-19 Youth Championship qualifiers as a warm-up for the World Cup because the level of the opposition in Arbil was not up to the standard of the teams they played in Dubai.


There were revelations over the FA’s never ending problems in getting their teams kited out for international matches, when it was reported by that the Under 17 players had complained about the shirts and shorts that  were worn during their matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. One unnamed member of the squad, stating that the clothing that were handed to them by the FA were several sizes to big and were not brand new, and added that they gave out an unpleasant smell in the high temperatures and the large sizes impeded the movements of some of the players.

The player who declined to be named was quoted as saying, “Although the clothes used were too large, the delegation stitched the clothing from the sides but they remained significantly larger especially at the sleeves, which they gave us tape to wrap around the sleeves so as not to impede movement while playing.”

He added that the players wanted to wear new uniforms as like many of the other teams at the tournament representing their country in a world football competition.

The unnamed player also commented that after the AFC U-19 Youth Championship qualifying rounds in Arbil, each player was handed a bonus of $200 US. The player revealed that the squad used the money to buy new footwear two days before the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Iraq U-19 had the same problems with a lack of sportswear in the summer at the U-19 World Cup in Turkey after the FA’s contract with Chinese sportswear manufacturers PEAK had run out and have yet to find a new kit supplier.


On the eve of the Sweden game Talib Chaloub, the Iraq U-17 coach during the recent AFC U-17 Championship qualifiers went on Al-Baghdadiya TV to make the claim that for the past five years he would give money to his players out of his own pocket for their fare home after training in the area of Shuala, which he said amounted to around 2 and a half to 3 million Iraqi dinars and he had not been repaid a cent by the FA.

He then went onto make an astonishing claim that other coaches from the Iraq FA youth systems had taken bribes to include players in the squad to buy homes and cars, and some were still working with the FA.

The former coach also told the show that for the past five years, he had not been offered the necessary facilities for the training of the team, from the training pitch, the coaching staff, administration to the player’s sportswear and even to the balls. Talib called the side he was training a shaabiya team and not a team representing a nation, training for the five years on a five a side pitch and the coaching and backroom staff only arrived to work with the U-17s a month before the start of the qualifying campaign.

The team went to the qualifiers in Nepal, without a goalkeeping coach, a fitness trainer, and a team doctor. “Why,” asked the presenter Haider Zaki.

“Ask Najih Humoud,” replied the coach.

He put the blame on the team’s failure to qualify for the AFC U-17 Championship finals firmly on the head of FA president, for the poor training facilities offered to the team, the travelling arrangements made from Baghdad to Nepal, which left many of the players jet-lagged and the hotel, which he commented that even the worst hotel in the Baghdad district of Bataween was better than the one the team vacated in Nepel.

He also claimed that he had not been paid for nine months by the Iraq FA.

A day after the defeat in their final game to Nigeria, the FA decided to dissolve the Under 17s team, from the coaching staff, the administration, to the players after the poor showing at the World Cup, and declared that the team would not be promoted to play at Under 19 level.


In a hint of a growing mutiny in the ranks of the FA, there were rumours that Najih’s right hand man vice president Abdul-Khaliq Masoud had handed in his resignation declaring that he was part of the failures in the FA and that his resignation was the only saviour to his own history.  In a press statement, he noted that the FA was incapable to move without any clear plans or strategy, and went onto add that “everyone was responsible for it, the first person to bear the claim to reform, with the resignation being his only way to save his reputation and football history.

“I return to the FA to pledged to hold a special meeting to where to listen to his views and discussed with the President and members of the FA. I will not be attending the meetings of the Fixtures Committee as chairman by the lack of conviction of the work of the Football Association in the last term and assigned the secretary of the Committee to work on my behalf in technical conferences of the Commission.”

But in an interview with Mada Newspaper , FA member Ali Jabar denied that the vice president had stepped down, and then gave the Iraqi sports media a tongue lashing “The news cited by some media about the first vice president Abdul-Khaliq Masoud is untrue and there were no such statement.”

“I do not know where it comes from, some of the media who make these remarks that are false and there are stepping up in a lot of negative cases and issues, forgetting the positive event, which always works upon the FA,” adding that he personally confirmed that he had been taking with Al-Mullah on the previous evening on some of the things involving the new Iraqi league season.

The Iraq FA had gathered on Monday, October 21 to announce the launch of the 2013-14 Iraqi Premier League season, which will begin on October 29 with 16 clubs. Three days later the FA decided to postpone the Iraqi league from November 8 until 23 because of Ashura, and Iraq’s Asian Cup qualifier with Saudi Arabia scheduled for November 15.

Al-Mullah’s statements came after Iraqi club Al-Talaba had requested that the vice president step down from his position as President of the League Fixture Committee, because of his position on the board of Iraqi premier league club Arbil. For several seasons now, the former Iraqi league have been given a freehand to postpone their league matches because of their participation in the AFC Cup and having over five players representing the national side.

But in some cases, other teams such as Al-Shurta and Duhok have not been permitted to postpone their matches even though they would have been entitled to do within FA rules which state any club with five players selected into the national squad would be able to postpone their league matches.

Al-Talaba lodged an objection to his nomination as president of the committee, with club secretary Ali Al-Saadi explaining that Al-Mullah’s presence in the committee would make him the subject of suspicion and speculation. He said in an interview with Al-Sumaria News, “The Fixture Committee is making great efforts in order to avoid the mistakes of the past season,” revealing that “Al-Talaba had tighten at the hands of the Commission in its efforts for the competition to emerge empty of any mistakes. ”

Al-Saadi revealed “The club registered its objection to the presidency of vice president Abdul-Khaliq Masoud for the Fixtures Committee, as he represents Arbil Club,” adding that “the combination of positions put a focus of suspicions on Masoud because he represented one of the clubs participating in the league.”

But he noted that there was “No objection to Masoud, who was fair person and a personality that has a long experience in administrative work and we respect his character and we have all the appreciation for him.”

FA official Kamil Zaghir, a man, with a statement for every occasion, told Shafaq News on October 23, that Abdul-Khaliq Masoud had personally requested to leave the committee, especially after it became a demand mainly from the general authority of the FA, noting the fact that the vice president, was also vice president of Arbil, and “this”, the FA official stated  “had presented an embarrassment to the FA during the league season.”

He added that ” The request came as proposal to him personally to serve the public interest and not because of a disagreement or diminution with him, knowing that my relationship with Abdul-Khaliq Masoud is very good Abdul-Khaliq Masoud , and there are no differences.”

But concluded “It seems that the vice president in his sense of need to show his dissatisfaction and temporary boycott the FA.”

However things did not end there, and on October 25, there were two further more resignations in the FA when Nawzad Qadir and Ibrahim Qasim declared that they had left their positions. Nawzad Qadir told Shafaq News that he decided to withdraw from the work of the FA with his colleague Ibrahim Qasim, because of being ” marginalised ” in their work.

He explained that the Football Association had marginalised their roles and did not take on board their views and their proposals, noting that they have decided to boycott meetings of the FA and leave their work permanently.

He said the decision to withdraw had not born out of recent disagreements, but came after previous accumulations had they had suffered from the FA.


But that is not the only revolt the Iraqi president is facing, with the general assembly of the FA preparing to lodge a formal complaint to FIFA against the management of the FA and the president. The source on condition of anonymity told Mada Newspaper that a number of representatives of Premier League clubs and other subsidiary heads of the FA would file a complaint to the Disciplinary Committee of FIFA against Najih Humoud for ignoring the general assembly by not holding any meeting since his election victory, noting that the international Federation of national associations was required to hold at least one meeting per year to discuss the administrative and financial reports , but that this did not happen even once under the current FA.

There were promises from ex-vice president Abdul-Khaliq Masoud over convening a meeting , but  after his withdrawal from the FA and the two other members with him, and already with a number of members also withdrawing, including second vice president Sharar Haidar, Mohammed Jawad Al-Saiegh and Mohammed Khalil, had all pushed the general assembly to make their concerns known to FIFA.


On October 24, FA media spokesman Amir Dagestani told Shafaq News, the FA president would hold a press conference at the FA headquarters in Baghdad, some time next week to discuss a number of issues facing the Iraqi FA.

He also said that it was likely that the FA president would hold a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to discuss the situations facing Iraqi football.

The Iraq FA and the government run Ministry of Youth & Sport have been at loggerheads since the period under Hussein Saeed, and relations have been strained to say the least, as the recent events prior to the opening of the new Basra Sports Stadium showed.

On the eve of the opening ceremony the FA president refused for any of Iraq’s top referees to officiate in the two opening matches after opposition from FIFA of the staging of the ‘international’ tournament between two teams from Iraq and teams from Lebanon and Egypt after FIFA warned the FA of staging such an event as they were banned from hosting any international inside of Iraq.

The hosting of the next Gulf Cup is another bone of contention between the FA and the Iraqi government, Sports Minister Jassim Mohammed Jafar declared that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and the Foreign Minister of Qatar had contacted and presented a proposal to grant Iraq a deadline to September 2014 for all the requirements to be agreed upon by the Gulf nations. But after he was unable to contact the FA president, he got into contact with vice president Abdul-Khaliq Masoud to tell Najih Humoud of the government’s proposal and added that the FA president was told of the proposal in a meeting held in September 26 this year and the Sports Minister noted that it seemed that the FA president was “aware” that the 22nd Gulf Cup tournament would not be held in Basra and suggested at the time that the competition be moved and Iraq host the 23rd Gulf in order to be prepared for the competition.


And only last week, the FA president’s arch nemesis Brazilian Zico criticised him in an interview with Al-Dawri wa Al-Kass claiming that Najih Humoud carried “full responsibility” for Iraq’s failure to qualify for 2014 World Cup and wanted to do everything “like a coach and not like the head of an FA”, noting that he interfered with the squad selections.

The coach, who is now coaching Al-Gharrafa in the Qatari league, had lodged a complaint to FIFA over unpaid wages, and the bill for the Iraq FA could amount to $2.5m US.

Zico’s salary from August 28 2011 to 5 December 2012 should have been $3,125,000 US but because the payments were made in $833,809.89 in US Dollars and 1,159,770.00 in Euros, which in total in US dollars would be $2.475,204.79 US, Zico was short changed by $649,795.21 US. This is why the FA kept on saying that the payments were made, but forget to take into account the currency conversion rate from Euro to US, and all of the payments were not made on time and some were made nearly two months late!  This will cost the FA more as Zico is now demanding payment with 5% interest from June 2012 plus the $1.5m compensation fee!

The FA’s strategy has been to deny, deny, and deny.  FA secretary Tariq Ahmed told Shafaq News on October 21, that the FA had all necessary documents for all payments made to Zico, and stressed that the FA had paid “the last cent” to Zico and he was not due anymore. He blamed the banks and added that Zico should’ve brought a case against the bank concerned and not the FA.  The FA’s General Relations officer Walid Tabra recently mentioned that the FA and Zico’s lawyers were hoping to resolve the crisis between both parties.

However the Brazilian coach has been singing from a completely different hymn book and recently said the Iraqi Football Association had to pay the amount of two million dollars, according to a ruling from FIFA.

The road ahead looks a little bumpy for Najih Humoud and the Iraqi FA.


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