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Iraq attempts to reverse Fifa ban

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The ban came after Iraq disbanded its Olympic Committee and national sport federations on 20 May, in breach of Fifa and Olympic regulat

The ban came after Iraq disbanded its Olympic Committee and national sport federations on 20 May, in breach of Fifa and Olympic regulations.

But government officials now claim the football association is not affected and hopes the ban will be lifted.

Iraq are due to play Australia in 2010 World Cup qualifiers on 1 and 8 June.

Fifa said that the suspension may be lifted if it receives by 29 May written confirmation that the decree has been anulled.

"We received a letter from the secretary-general of the cabinet which clarifies that the decision does not include the sports federations, including the soccer federation," said the head of the Iraqi Football Association Hussein Saeed.

"We sent a copy of the letter to Fifa. We don't know whether they will change their mind or not."

Sports Minister Jasem Mohammed Jaafar said the government had sent clarification to the football federation because the old decision was vague and misinterpreted.

"We have done what we could. If Fifa doesn't reverse its decision and Iraq doesn't play in the World Cup, we won't be responsible," he said.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said earlier that he hoped the ban would lead the Iraqi government to change their mind in time for Iraq to continue their qualification campaign.

Blatter told The Australian newspaper: "Iraq are the Asian champions and brought so much hope and joy to their country when they won the final in Malaysia last year.

"I am confident there is enough pressure on the government to help them change their mind."

Iraq are set to play Australia in Brisbane on 1 June and in Dubai on 7 June.

The Socceroos are top of Group One of the Asia qualifying section with four points from two games. Iraq are bottom with one point from two games.

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