|Ph Credit: krg.org|
Erbil, Kurdistan Region – (KRG.org) Iraq – Football organisers this week in Erbil announced that next year’s VIVA World Cup tournament will be held in Kurdistan for the first time.
Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Head of Foreign Relations, yesterday met members of the New Federation Board together with Mr Safeen Kanabi, Head of the Kurdistan Football Association.
The New Federation Board (NFB) is a football association made up of teams that represent nations, regions and other parts of the world not affiliated with FIFA. The association’s president Christian Michelis came with members of the NFB and representatives of the various regions that will participate in the 2012 VIVA World Cup. They came to Kurdistan on a fact-finding mission and to discuss the logistics of the tournament.
Mr Michelis said that he was very pleased to be back in the Kurdistan Region and he hoped that football’s popularity will give Kurdistan more exposure throughout Europe and other parts of the world when it hosts next year’s championship.
Minister Bakir welcomed the delegation and thanked them for choosing the Kurdistan Region as the next host of the 2012 VIVA World Cup. He said, “Sports can help to build a bridge of shared initiative even where there are few other areas of mutual interest.” He added that all sides can benefit from sports and was glad that the delegation had an opportunity to see the developments in the Kurdistan Region for themselves.
Due to its sustained security, Erbil already hosts international football matches for the Iraqi national team. Iraq’s Asian qualifying matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics are both taking place in Erbil. Mr Bakir confirmed, “The KRG is ready and willing to host the VIVA World Cup next year and will do everything possible to ensure a successful event for both the participants and football fans.”
The Minister also briefed the delegation about the history of the Kurdistan Region and the importance the KRG places on hosting sporting events, so that people can see for themselves the progress that has been made in Kurdistan. He said, “This Region has witnessed significant and sustained improvements in terms of stability, security and economic development. The Kurdish people are always welcoming and embracing of foreign guests, and we have always been so, even during our most difficult days. We hope this tournament will allow the participants and visitors to enjoy Kurdish hospitality and culture.’
Mr Michelis said that the NFB will also organise a cultural event alongside the VIVA World Cup so that the participating nations and regions be able to share in the experiences of the Kurdish people. He added that he looks forward to working together in order to ensure a successful 2012 VIVA World Cup.