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Basra could host a future Gulf Cup

Bahrain football chief leaves door open after taking 2014 event to Jeddah

Gulf News

Dubai: The head of Bahrain’s Football Association, Shaikh Ali Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, has not ruled out the possibility of the Iraqi city of Basra hosting a future Gulf Cup despite failing on technical criteria for next January’s staging.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will instead host the competition, after the decision to award Basra the bid was overruled on grounds of safety due to a Fifa ban on international matches inside the war-torn country.

“The decision was based on purely technical matters,” said Khalifa. “The meeting agreed that Jeddah would host the 22nd Gulf Cup after they reviewed technical reports and recommendations by federation officials to shift the venue from Basra on the grounds that it was not ready for the Gulf tournament.

“We also agreed that the 23rd tournament would be held in Basra on the condition that it would be ready to host it.”

Ahmad Al Harbi, head of Saudi Arabia’s Football Association, welcomed the switch to Jeddah and said it would be a good test of Saudi capabilities to host a major event ahead of its potential hosting of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Thailand and Iran have also bid for the Asian Cup, with a decision set for June next year.

— With inputs from Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief