Some earn as little as 10,000 dinars

Sports photographers in Basra quit in protest over low wages

BASRA, January 3 — A number of young sports photographers in western Basra’s Al-Zubair district announced on Sunday their decision to quit their jobs in protest over a significant reduction in wages for covering local football matches and other sports events in the city. The Sports Committee in Al-Zubair placed blame on the Basra Sports Council, stating that it showed little interest in grassroots football.

More than 10 sports photographers made their announcement via WhatsApp groups for members of organizing committees and entities of third-tier and grassroots clubs.

Photographers reportedly take a minimum of 70 images per match to document the course of the game, players’ reactions, and the audience, for 10,000 Iraqi dinars.

Sajad Hamdi, Photographer:

“Photographing matches for grassroots teams has been my hobby since childhood, but this passion needs support and attention from tournament organizers and the Youth and Sports Directorate through fair compensation. The fees we receive do not help us cover the costs of the camera equipment. When covering matches, we don’t just capture the game’s events; we create promotional posters for match viewing and a short video clip after each match, all for no more than 10,000 dinars.”

Abdullah Hussein, Photographer:

“I gave up photography to preserve my professional equipment and camera from damage in grassroots arenas because they are expensive and difficult to repair. I capture a minimum of 70 photos during each match and receive only 10,000 dinars for that, which amounts to 7 photos for just 1,000 dinars—a sum that hardly means anything.”

Qais Jasim, Photographer:

“I documented the most important grassroots tournaments in Al-Zubair for amounts that are not enough to buy a camera’s RAM, and this is not enough money. What keeps us working is just capturing moments of joy after winning, seen on the faces of players, coaches, and the passionate Al-Zubair football fans.”

Walid Abdul Khaliq, Head of Al-Zubair’s Youth Committee:

“There are several reasons for not supporting photographers’ wages, including the lack of interest from the sports council in Basra in grassroots teams. There are other teams and committees that do not provide any compensation to photographers at all. We respect the photographers’ decision to quit, and we are making significant effort to solve the problem. It’s not a new issue but it has persisted for years. Photographers are the eyes that see the corners of the field clearly, and we will fight to fulfill their demands for the sake of serving grassroots sports in Al-Zubair.”