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.


Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

Updated 24 June 2018
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Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

  • Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece
  • Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F

SOCHI: Toni Kroos has revived Germany's World Cup hopes with a superb late strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win for the defending champions over Sweden.
Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece, with Germany down to 10 men. He tapped the ball to Marco Reus from the free kick and then launched his strike into the top corner.
Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F after opening with a loss to Mexico. It is now second in the group, three points behind Mexico and level with Sweden. Mexico had a 2-1 victory over winless South Korea 2-1 earlier Saturday.
Sweden opened the scoring with Ola Toivonen in the first half after a counterattack that started with a passing mistake by Kroos' near midfield.
Reus equalized three minutes into the second half with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Timo Werner.
Germany played the final minutes with 10 men as Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card for a hard challenge on Marcus Berg.
Halftime substitute Mario Gomez had one of the best chances for Germany with a close-range header in the 88th that was saved by goalkeeper Robin Olsen.