The Basra Sports City stadium was the first international stadium to be built in Iraq since the Al-Shaab Stadium in 1966, and had been expected to be the pride of Iraqi football with the Sports City hosting the prestigious Gulf Cup, however organisers switched the tournament to Bahrain and then the next edition to Saudi Arabia.
The 65,000 capacity stadium was opened on October 12, 2013 with a series of matches between clubs from Basra, Baghdad, Egypt and Lebanon. They were all fined by FIFA for taking part in the opening of the stadium while Iraq were banned from hosting any international matches inside of the country.
However the Basra Sports City stadium and the complete complex is now left unused, with the Ministry of Youth – in a rift with the Iraq FA – preventing the stadium from hosting any league matches for two of Iraq’s Basra based clubs Al-Minaa and Naft Al-Janoub.
The story of the current crisis of Iraqi football in a nutshell, all sports leaders and authorities looking out for their own interests and not that of Iraq and its football and its people. For the first time in sixty years, Iraq has a stadium of an international standard and it is left to gather dust.