Published: May 10, 2023

A Snapshot of Football Regulation in Iraq

Over the years, football has emerged as the most popular sport in Iraq. The country has witnessed a significant growth in both local and international interest in the sport, with many clubs and players garnering attention on the global stage. To facilitate the growth of football in Iraq, various laws and regulations have been put in place to ensure fair play, accountability, and safety. This article will provide an overview of the legal framework governing football in Iraq and its implications for players, clubs, and other stakeholders.


1. The Iraq Football Association (IFA)


The Iraq Football Association (IFA) is the governing body responsible for the administration of football in Iraq. Established in 1948, the IFA is a member of FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA), amongst other organizations. The IFA is responsible for organizing and managing all levels of football competitions in Iraq, including the Iraq Premier League, Iraq FA Cup, and the national team. Additionally, the IFA oversees the implementation of FIFA, AFC, and UAFA regulations and guidelines within the country.


2. National Sports Association Law Iraq


The National Sports Association Law serves as one of the primary legal frameworks governing sports, including football, in Iraq. The law primarily covers the establishment and organization of sports federations. The Iraqi National Sports Associations Law also establishes guidelines for the conduct of athletes, coaches, and other sports persons to maintain a high level of professionalism, fairness, and integrity in the sport.


3. Licensing and Transfer Regulations


In accordance with FIFA regulations, the IFA has implemented licensing requirements for clubs participating in the Iraq Premier League. These requirements include maintaining a professional management structure, providing adequate infrastructure and training facilities, and meeting financial criteria. The IFA also oversees the transfer of players between clubs, ensuring compliance with FIFA’s transfer regulations, such as the protection of minors, third-party ownership, and solidarity mechanisms.


4. Dispute Resolution


The IFA has established a system for dispute resolution in accordance with its statutes. The IFA’s dispute resolution process addresses a wide range of issues, including contractual disputes between players and clubs, disciplinary matters, and disputes related to player transfers. The IFA Statutes stipulate the formation of various committees to handle these disputes, such as the Disciplinary Committee, the Appeals Committee, and the Players’ Status Committee.

The Disciplinary Committee deals with disciplinary matters, including sanctions imposed on clubs, players, and officials, while the Appeals Committee hears appeals against the decisions made by the Disciplinary Committee. The Players’ Status Committee, on the other hand, resolves disputes related to player registrations and transfers.

In cases where the parties are not satisfied with the decisions made by the IFA committees, they have the option to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), one of the highest judicial authorities in sports-related disputes, in accordance with the regulations and procedures set by CAS.


5. Women’s Football


The growth of women’s football in Iraq has been on the rise in recent years, with the establishment of the Iraq Women’s Football League more than a decade ago. The IFA, in collaboration with FIFA, is working towards promoting gender equality and providing support to women’s football in the country. Ideally this should include the development of women’s football infrastructure, coaching education, and the provision of financial assistance to clubs. That said, many challenges remain in the way of the promotion and development of women’s football in Iraq.


6. Recent Developments


The IFA is reportedly in discussions with La Liga Santander, Spain’s premier men’s professional football division, to establish the Iraqi Professional League. This new league will coexist with the existing Iraqi Premier League, featuring its own set of regulations, specifications, and broadcasting rules. These will reportedly align with European standards, with La Liga Santander providing consultative support throughout the process.


7. Conclusion


The legal framework governing football in Iraq has played a crucial role in the development and growth of the sport in the country. The collaboration between the IFA, AFC, FIFA, and other stakeholders should ensure that the sport is managed professionally and ethically, fostering a competitive and fair environment for players, clubs, and fans as football continues to evolve in Iraq.

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