Iraq summons Algerian envoy over pro-Saddam football chants

Spectators shouted the chants at an Arab Club Champions Cup game on Sunday between USM Alger and Iraq’s Air Force Athletic Club. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Iraq summons Algerian envoy over pro-Saddam football chants

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it had summoned Algeria’s ambassador after the North African nation’s football supporters sang slogans glorifying former dictator Saddam Hussein during a game in Algiers.
In a statement, ministry spokesman Ahmed Mahjub voiced “the indignation of the government and the Iraqi people (at) the horrible glorification of the regime of murderous dictator Saddam Hussein.”
Saddam was deposed in 2003 by a US-led military intervention.
Spectators shouted the chants at an Arab Club Champions Cup game on Sunday between USM Alger and Iraq’s Air Force Athletic Club.
Videos filmed inside the stadium and posted online show Algerian supporters chanting “Allahu akbar (God is greatest)! Saddam Hussein!“
After 75 minutes of play, the Iraqi team left the pitch in protest.
Iraq’s football federation threatened to pull its teams out of the remainder of the competition and said it “opposed all extremist and sectarian slogans.”
“If the Arab Football Federation does not take a decision to restore... respect for Iraqi football, the Iraqi federation will withdraw its clubs,” Iraqi football federation president Abdel Khaleq Massud said in a statement.
Air Force Athletic Club coach Bassem Qassem accused the spectators of having “backward and extremist ideas.”
“We can’t accept the crowd insulting our country and our team,” he said in a video broadcast by Iraqi football officials.
“Why would we play in front of a sectarian crowd?“


Michel Platini released from custody after police probe into Qatar World Cup 2022 corruption

Updated 59 min 51 sec ago
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Michel Platini released from custody after police probe into Qatar World Cup 2022 corruption

  • French authorities haven’t announced any charges against Platini
  • The authorities also questioned a sport adviser from the previous French president’s administration

PARIS: Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.

Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.

“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”

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TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Former UEFA head Platini detained in Qatar World Cup probe

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Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.

Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.

Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup

As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.

French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

They are looking into possible offences including private corruption, conspiracy and influence peddling.

The decision in December 2010 to award the World Cup to Qatar surprised many given the lack of potential local audiences for the games, the extremely hot summer weather, and the poor performance of the country's national squad. It will be the first Arab state to host the competition.

Platini is one of France's most famous sportsmen and soccer stars. He led France to victory in the 1984 European Championship and played in two World Cup semi-finals.

(With Agencies)