Monday, July 30, 2007

Fear of terrorism restrains Iraq player celebrations

Iraq's mainly expat national football team are looking forward to returning home to celebrate winning the Asian Cup but there are fears for their safety and for the security of any jubilant crowds. Iraqi Youth and Sports Minister Jasem Mohammed Jaafar said on Monday it was hoped the team, most of whose players live abroad, would arrive in Baghdad this week after their historic triumph in Jakarta on Sunday. "They will be met at the airport by representatives of the prime minister, president and speaker of the Council of Representatives," Jaafar told Reuters. "We are studying how to offer them the necessary security so they can enjoy the events we have for them," he said.

Midfielder Hawar Mullah Mohammad said he was looking forward to a national reception. "We wish we could go back and get a reception like other winning teams in open-top buses," Mohammad told Reuters. "But we don't only fear for ourselves, we are also afraid for the safety of the large crowds that may be targeted by terrorists," he said.

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