Kurdish-Shiite row erupts at Iraqi football match

Zakho Sport Club. (Zakho club website)
Updated 17 December 2016
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Kurdish-Shiite row erupts at Iraqi football match

BAGHDAD: Two clubs from Iraqi Kurdistan announced on Saturday their withdrawal from the country’s football championship in protest at anti-Kurdish chants during a match against a Shiite club.
The match itself was briefly suspended after Irbil’s players walked off when home club supporters in the Shiite city of Najaf south of Baghdad chanted slogans associating the Kurdish regional capital Irbil in the north with the Islamic State jihadist group.
Iraqi television, which was broadcasting the match, cut the audio to block the chanting.
“We called our players off because of the slogans... which the Najaf public was chanting against Kurdistan and its political figures,” Abdallah Majid, a director of the Irbil club, told AFP. 
“This is unacceptable and has no place in sport,” he said, adding that Irbil was pulling out of the championship until “a decision is taken at the political level.”
A second Kurdish club in the Iraqi league, Zakho, withdrew in solidarity with Irbil.
The Iraqi football federation issued a statement apologizing to Irbil and calling for punitive measures to be taken over the incident.
IS fighters seized swathes of Iraqi territory west and north of Baghdad in 2014, including areas bordering autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi federal forces, Shiite militias and Kurdish peshmerga fighters in mid-October launched an anti-IS offensive to try to recapture the northern city of Mosul.
But strains remain between Kurdistan and Baghdad over oil resources in northern Iraq and the scope of autonomy.
Iraq’s football federation has for years been lobbying the sport’s world governing body FIFA to lift a ban on the country hosting international games because of security concerns.


Cricket world body rejects Pakistan compensation claim over India

Updated 29 min 29 sec ago
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Cricket world body rejects Pakistan compensation claim over India

DUBAI: The International Cricket Council has dismissed a compensation claim by Pakistan over India’s refusal to honor an agreement to play bilateral series.
“Following a three-day hearing and having considered detailed oral and written submissions, the Dispute Panel has dismissed the PCB’s claim against the BCCI,” the ICC said in a statement.
The decision cannot be appealed.
The dispute centered on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) according to which India and Pakistan had agreed to play six bilateral series between 2015-2023, four of which would be hosted by Pakistan.
The PCB had filed a compensation claim of $70 million.
But India refused to play Pakistan citing the Indian government’s objections due to strained relations with Pakistan.
According to the agreement, the six tours would include up to 14 Tests, 30 one-days and 12 Twenty20 internationals.
The MoU was a reward to Pakistan for backing the “Big Three” plan according to which India, Australia and England had the major share of power and revenues of world cricket.
However, that arrangement fell apart and the BCCI refused to accept the MoU as a legal document, dismissing it as a “piece of paper.”
India cut off cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai which left more than 160 people killed.
The two sides have not played a full series since Pakistan’s tour of India in 2007.
Pakistan toured India for a limited-overs series with two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals from December 2012-January 2013 but full ties were not restored.
After negotiations about the proposed tours failed, the PCB filed a notice of dispute with the ICC resolution committee in November last year, claiming the 70 million dollars in compensation.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which has reportedly spent one million dollars fighting the case, described the decision as “disappointing.”
“Following a lengthy dispute resolution process, the announcement of the decision has come as a disappointment,” it said.
“PCB will determine its future course of action in this regard after detailed deliberations and consultations with its stakeholders.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) welcomed the decision, saying it had always maintained that the MoU was non-binding and that it “merely expressed an intention to play.”
“The BCCI wholeheartedly welcomes the decision of the Dispute Panel. The BCCI will now move the Dispute Panel to recover its legal cost from the PCB,” it said in a press release.