There are a wide variety of sports played and followed in Iraq. Football is the most popular sport and hobby in Iraq. Football is a considerable uniting factor, following years of war and unrest. Basketball, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, taekwondo, boxing, kickboxing, and tennis are also popular sports and hobbies.

Younis Mahmoud is Iraq's all-time most capped player in international matches, having played in 148 official games.

Background edit

Sport was only recently popular in Iraq and this was the case due to the Baath regime, which assumed power in 1968. It was primarily focused on establishing its authority by forcing society to adopt its ideology and sports did not reflect this radical orientation.[1] In the latter part of the 1970s, however, sports began to attract attention. Due to an increasing wealth brought in by the uptick in oil prices, sports facilities have been built in different parts of the country. Particularly, football flourished after domestic football was launched and the country also hosted international competitions, drawing the participation of international football clubs. The popularity of the sport did not dampen the Iraqi enthusiasm even during the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s when young Iraqis had to serve the armed forces.[1] The field of sports did suffer during Saddam Hussein's regime, when many athletes fled the country due to reports of abuse and torture, particularly by his son, Uday Hussein.

Recent developments in the sports field have been positive for Iraq especially football and basketball. These attract strong following, with fans crowding stadiums in cities like Baghdad.[1]

Sports edit

Football edit

Football is the most popular sport in Iraq. Today, it is not uncommon to find many Iraqi villages having their own football teams.[2] The Iraq national football team were the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Champions after defeating Saudi Arabia in the final, held in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2006, Iraq reached the football final of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, after defeating former FIFA World Cup semi-finalists South Korea and eventually finished as runners-up, winning silver. The football tournament at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, saw Iraq finish in fourth place, with the Italy national football team claiming bronze from a single goal.

The Iraq Football Association is the governing body of football in Iraq, controlling the Iraq national football team and the Iraq Stars League. It was founded in 1948, and has been a member of FIFA since 1950, and the Asian Football Confederation since 1971.[3]

Some of Iraq's top clubs include Al-Shorta, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Al-Zawraa, Erbil SC, Duhok SC, Al Talaba and Najaf FC. While most athletes in Iraq are men, the country has already opened to female playing soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Recently, for instance, Iraq fielded its first national women's soccer team.[4]

Basra International Stadium on January 19, 2023, during the Final of the 25th Arab Gulf Championship in Basra.

Iraq won 3–2 .

Basketball edit

Basketball is a popular sport in Iraq. There are at least two leagues, the Iraq Basketball Association, the country's professional organization, runs a number of adult and youth leagues, and the Iraqi Premier League, for elite players.[5]

Basketball clubs

Kickboxing edit

Iraq has a world-champion kickboxer in Riyadh Al-Azzawi.

Wrestling edit

Iraqi professional wrestler Adnan Al-Kaissie is known as General Adnan.

Rugby edit

Upstart in 2023, The national Program has welcomed home Expatriate Suraj Al-Tamimi to lead a young but hungry squad into a modern age.

2024 Arab Rugby Sevens Men's Championship:


Our men preformed with courage and gallantry on the pitch in 4 hard earned games over the 16th and 17th of February 2024. Taking Loses in all 4 matches, The highlight of the championship was by far our newly welcomed home expatriate Suraj Al-Tamimi. With a stat line in the tournament of 54 1/2 tackles, 10 turnovers at the breakdown and one incredible ankle tap tackle to save the team from a back breaking try, Suraj Cemented himself as a mainstay in the national team program for years to come.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Nauright, John; Parrish, Charles (2012). Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice, Volume 3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 295. ISBN 9781598843002.
  2. ^ Spengler, Kremena; Simon, Reeva (2005). Iraq: A Question and Answer Book. Mankato, MN: Capstone. pp. 18. ISBN 0736826912.
  3. ^ IFA website (in Arabic)
  4. ^ Taus-Bolstad, Stacy (2004). Iraq in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company. p. 56. ISBN 9780822509349.
  5. ^ "Love of basketball brings players, fans back to court -".

External links edit