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When I first started, I did not even have a full list of matches. Majority of the information has come from non-Iraqi sources such as people like Hyung-Jin Yoon “Yan”, Asghar Zarei, Neil Morrison, Gautam Roy, Poosit Srirojanapinyo, Hamdan Saied and many others while the recent details of matches have come from watching matches on satellite channels. I have also been working with members of Niiiis.com and Kooora forums, though work has been slow.
For decades this subject had been neglected because of over 50 years of revolutions, military coups and wars, which made it difficult for journalists to document history without having to tow a political line. Tariq Mohammed Salih, the nephew of Iraq leader Abdul-Karim Qasim was one of the first victims, a footballer that was executed because his uncle was the Iraqi leader, though there was little mention of who he was and how he died in any newspapers or books. His younger brother Muayad, a footballer himself, was imprisoned on several occasions after the bloody 1963 revolution but managed to build a career in the game and was even called into the national team after public pressure however the coach of Iraq at the time, refused to play him because in his own words 'he hated his uncle'. The same can be said for another national player of the 60s, Mohammed Najim, known as Mohammed Shaita. He was a childhood friend of Saddam Hussein and was killed in an 'incident' at a cafe in 1969. There are little details of him or how he was killed; this may have been because he was a member of a gang of pick-pocketing youths that included a young Saddam. Up until the end of Saddam's regime in 2003, the name of Falah Hassan, one of the most talented footballers of his generation was wiped from newspapers and magazines, even the Iraqi league goalscoring list from 1974 in the daily sports newspaper Al-Baath Al-Riyadhi, the entry for the season 1978-1979 was left empty, this was the same season that Falah Hassan scored 7 goals. His goals were even banned from being shown on TV. The reason for this was that Falah had left Iraq in 1991 and had fallen out with Saddam's eldest son Uday. A close friend and team-mate of Falah's, another national player in the 1970s, Bashar Rasheed was executed by the Baathist regime in 1978 for holding membership to the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) while serving in the Iraqi army. During the 1960s, two of Iraq's captains Jabar Rashak and Abid Kadhim had the death penalty hanging over their heads while in trying to prevent a serious diplomatic fall-out between the Iraqi and Lebanese regimes in 1957, photos of clashes between Iraqi and Lebanese sportsmen at the Pan Arab Games were censored and only released in 1985.
With the age of the computer and the internet, researching has become a bit easier however even today Iraqi international matches are not well documented while the local media lacks the dedication and professionalism of their peers in other countries and information on one match can usually depend on the work of one individual, one example is a recent friendly in Doha against Lebanon late last year that was not televised, there were only two journalists at the game and not one wrote a detailed account on the game and most of the details I managed to obtain were from fans at the match. After this game, I decided to contact FIFA to see if they would help and they told me they would be able to help me for some matches from the year starting 1987 however this will take some time.
Over the years, it has been a matter of waiting for information and I have even begun to write about the national team, its players and coaches. The Iraq Football Association itself has never kept records of matches nor does any newspaper in Iraq keep archives because of the instability in the country over the decades, this has been left to individuals. Since the end of the 2003 War Iraqis have experienced a little more freedom in the media, there has been an appetite for researching into the past especially Iraq's own football history. The first book on Iraqi football history was written by Ismail Mohammed, a former coach of Iraq in 1957, who had worked at the Youth & Sports Ministry in the 70s using resources from there to gather information on the origins of football in Mesopotamia, the book was published in 1990 with writer Samir Al-Shukarji entitled "The illustrated history of Iraqi football from 1914-1945". Ismail Mohammed had hoped to write another book on history from 1945 to 1980 however after the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War that idea was shelved. In 2005, Dhia Al-Munshi published only the second book on Iraqi football history entitled “Iraqi Football Encyclopedia: Chico.. Jamoli… and football in Iraq”, this book was a great help however the details in the book were far from complete.
From the start of 2012, I decided that I would try my best to finally complete this project, contacting various organisations and individuals and have begun to post recent matches on a blog http://iraqsport.wordpress.com/
Any help would be great.