Saudi Arabia offers to fund new Iraq football stadium

Iraqi and Saudi Arabia football fans cheer and wave national flags during the friendly match in Basra last week. (AP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia offers to fund new Iraq football stadium

BAGHDAD: Saudi Arabia has offered to fund a new football stadium in Iraq, as FIFA prepares to decide whether to lift its ban on Iraq hosting competitive international matches.
The offer came in a telephone call between King Salman and Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Monday evening, the prime minister’s office said.
The stadium will be built in a sports city in Baghdad and will fit up to 100,000 spectators, Abadi's office added.
"A government commission has been formed to follow this issue," the head of Abadi's press office Haydar Hamada told AFP.
It follows an international friendly between the two countries in Iraq’s third city Basra on Feb. 28, their first on Iraqi soil in 40 years.
The king described the game, which Iraq won 4-1 in front of a capacity 60,000 crowd, as a “success,” Abadi’s office said.
It was watched by Asian Football Confederation head Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa who said “the time has come” to end the three-decade ban on Iraq hosting competitive international matches.
FIFA is due to decide on March 16.
The country has not played full internationals on home turf since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The ban, covering all but domestic matches, stayed in place after the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
It was briefly lifted in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Irbil led FIFA to promptly reinstate it.


‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

Al-Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Musa (back right) joins (front left to right) Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Habsi and Mohammad Jahfali and (back left) Saleh Alweheemed ahead of this weekend’s 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 10 December 2018
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‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

  • 22 Formula E drivers will battle it out for glory this weekend
  • "I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports"

JEDDAH: They may be fierce rivals in the Saudi Pro League, but some of the biggest stars of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr football got together to tour the venue of one of the most anticipated motor racing events in Saudi history.
The players soaked up the atmosphere as they visited the home of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix.
This weekend the 2.495km track created within the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah will see 22 Formula E drivers battle it out for glory.
Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi said: “I’m totally amazed by what they have built here, the track, the grandstands, the hospitality, it’s incredible what they’ve created for the Formula E.  It’s epic.
“As a professional athlete I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports, this will be a fiercely fought contest which is sure to thrill the fans.”

 (Left to right) Al Hilal star players Alberto Botia, Abdullah Almaiouf, Mohammad Jahfali, Ali Al-Habsi and Carlos Eduardo visit the new Formula E track at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah. (Photo/Supplied)

The racing extravaganza will also be accompanied by fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions.
Three nights of music concerts will feature some of the biggest names in world. 
US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will wrap up the event after the race ends on Saturday with Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo and Amr Diab performing from Thursday.
Al Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Mussa said: “We’re all about entertaining fans and bringing people together, that’s what football and sport is all about. These three nights will be a spectacle like nothing we’ve seen before and I urge our fans to come and be part of history.”