Basra to host Gulf Cup next year

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi calls it a sign of the country's 'recovery'

Soccer Football - Gulf Cup - Final - Bahrain v Saudi Arabia - Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 8, 2019  Bahrain players celebrate after the match  REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari
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Basra will be the venue for next year's Gulf Cup, its 25th edition.

The eight nation football tournament includes the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, as well as the hosts Iraq.

The decision was made at an extraordinary meeting of the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation, held online on Monday. The heads of the football associations of the GCC countries, Iraq and Yemen unanimously agreed to hold the Gulf Cup in Basra, Wam reported.

Last week, a federation committee discussed the report provided by the inspection team that visited Basra and was to submit its findings to the executive committee at Monday's meeting.

The last edition, hosted by Qatar in 2019, was won by Bahrain.

Iraq last hosted the Gulf Cup in 1979, when they became champions. They also won the cup in 1984 and 1988. On Monday, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said Basra hosting the tournament would be "a sign of Iraq's recovery" after years of conflict and political and economic crises.

Mr Al-Kadhimi pledged that the Iraqi government would do everything to ensure the Gulf Cup would be a success.

Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the UAE Football Association, who attended the federation meeting, said on Monday, "we are confident that the Iraqi Governorate of Basra will be well prepared for this mega event. Football means a lot to the people of Iraq, the cradle of civilisation and enlightenment".

"Football, the most popular sport in the world, is currently going through major challenges that we can overcome by more co-operation and creative initiatives," he said.

Also at the meeting were  The meeting was also attended by Humaid Ahmed Al Tayer, UAEFA member and Mohammed Abdullah Hazzam Al Dhaheri, UAEFA Secretary General.

On Friday, Sheikh Rashid met Adnan Dirjal, Iraq's Minister of Youth and Sports, Wam reported.

Included in discussions was Iraq's bid to host the upcoming Gulf Cup.