Saudi Arabian-funded 100,000-seater stadium in Iraq to be built in Baghdad

The Basra Sport City stadium where Iraq beat Saudi Arabia in a friendly last week. (Wiki Commons Media)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Saudi Arabian-funded 100,000-seater stadium in Iraq to be built in Baghdad

LONDON: Iraq Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said the new football stadium to be funded by Saudi Arabia will be situated in Baghdad and be able to host 100,000 spectators.
It was announced Tuesday that King Salman had offered to pay for the construction of a new arena following a telephone call with Al-Abadi on Monday evening, but no further details were given.
Al-Abadi used his weekly press conference to expand on details of the collaboration and how it arrived on the back of the first football match on Iraqi soil between the two sides in almost 40 years.
“I have received a phone call from the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz,” he said. “He hailed Iraqi’s victory (in the friendly match between the two sides last week) and expressed his preparedness and commitment to expanding positive relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at different levels — economical, commercial, communal, cultural, etc.— a t all levels that are of interest for the two countries.
“He also offered Saudi Arabia’s contribution to build a main stadium in Iraq that accommodates 100,000 people. We have welcomed the initiative and it was proposed today to the Cabinet.”
Al-Abadi said he has instructed his Cabinet to set up a task force to drive the build of the biggest stadium in Iraq, eclipsing the 65,000 venue at Basra Sports City.
“The Cabinet gave its directives to form a committee consisting of a group of key ministries concerned with this project,” Al-Abadi said. “The committee will consist of the Cabinet’s secretariat, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Higher Education, which includes the Center of Urban and Regional Planning
“It will handle developing the general framework for establishing the stadium, which will be the main stadium. 100,000 people is not a small number. We must pick a suitable location in Baghdad along with the stadium’s own additional facilities.
“The stadium will be established under the supervision and guidance of a higher Iraqi-Saudi coordinating council, which will specify the location and design in addition to following up on the project’s progress. The outcomes and progress of the committee’s work will be presented to the Cabinet.”


Mesut Ozil thanks Jerome Boateng for support over racism row

Updated 22 September 2018
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Mesut Ozil thanks Jerome Boateng for support over racism row

LONDON: Mesut Ozil has thanked Jerome Boateng for public support in the wake of Ozil’s controversial retirement from international football.
Ozil, 29, walked away from the Germany squad in July, claiming he was made a scapegoat for the national team’s disastrous failure at the World Cup and cited “racism and disrespect” due to his Turkish heritage and criticized the German FA (DFB).
Berlin-born Boateng, 30, was one of the few German players to speak up for Ozil at the time, said in an interview this week that fellow stars in the national team should have supported the Arsenal midfielder against the harsh criticism following the World Cup debacle.
“Thanks bro, for your words,” Arsenal midfielder Ozil wrote in an Instagram story on his official page.
“At the DFB, you were always one of the players who was there during difficult moments.”
After 23 goals and 40 assists in 92 appearances for Germany, Ozil, who was born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents, announced his retirement in a fiery three-page statement.
Boateng said his fellow 2014 World Cup winner had earned the right to a better send off.
“Where were the players, who then publicly thanked Mesut?” questioned Boateng, whose father comes from Ghana, in an interview with Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung this week.
“Apparently, many did not dare to comment because they thought that would not be so popular with German fans.
“It’s about a great player, who became world champion with us, who played fantastic games, who also changed German football a bit. A number 10 with a migration background!
“You have to say ‘thank you’, but I find it a shame that some held back.”