Foreign refs 'flown in all-expenses paid'

Referees for top flight Iraqi football still awaiting salaries

BAGHDAD — Eighteen rounds into the Iraqi Stars Football League season, and referees are still waiting on their paychecks, a source with inside knowledge told 964media.

Requesting anonymity, the source shed light on the financial struggles facing local referees, contrasting sharply with the Iraqi Football Federation’s recent lean towards bringing in foreign officials for its matches.

March 6 marks a debut for Saudi referees, who will take charge of the game between Al-Zawra and Al-Talaba in Baghdad, signaling a shift in officiating practices.

“Foreign refs pocket $1,500 for each game they officiate in the Iraqi league, not to mention all-expense-paid flights and a three-day stay in Iraq. In stark contrast, Iraqi refs traveling from Baghdad to Basra for a match are handed between 450,000 to 500,000 Iraqi dinars, barely covering their travel, food, and lodging,” the source explained.

This disparity in compensation has sparked frustration and grumbling among the local officiating ranks, with many feeling sidelined in favor of their international counterparts.

The Iraqi Football Federation has inked deals with various Arab federations to exchange know-how and referees, including for the Stars League.

The league itself boasts 20 teams this season, running two rounds of matches weekly, under an agreement with the Spanish Federation and the watchful eyes of La Liga officials.

The federation announced that Saudi referees Khalid Al-Teris, Mohammed Al-Abkari, and Abdulrahim Al-Shammari are slated to officiate the upcoming clash between Al-Zawra and Al-Talaba in Baghdad.

Further, there’s buzz around the Erbil versus Duhok match next week in Erbil, which might also feature international referees at the helm.

Arsalan Qader, a former international referee, discussed what he thinks the federation’s strategy is, noting its aim to lift the international embargo on Baghdad stadiums and broadcast an olive branch to FIFA and world football by engaging international referees.

So far, FIFA has greenlit only Basra and Erbil as approved venues for the Iraqi national team and clubs’ official matches on the Asian and global stages, leaving Baghdad off the list.

Robot makes its debut in match between Zakho and Al-Zawra teams

Robot makes its debut in match between Zakho and Al-Zawra teams

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18,000 tickets sold for Iraqi Air Force vs. Saudi Ittihad football match in Erbil