The Costa Rican Football Federation announced the cancellation of a friendly warm-up match for the 2022 World Cup that was scheduled for Thursday in Iraq against the host team, after an administrative problem it faced on the border with Kuwait, while the Iraqi authorities are still trying to settle the matter, according to AFP.
“The agreement not to stamp passports was not respected, and for this reason it was decided not to enter Iraq and to cancel the match,” said Gina Escobar, a spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Federation, from a bus at the border between the two countries.
On the other hand, an Iraqi government source confirmed that a private plane carrying the governor of Basra and the head of the Iraqi Football Association headed to Kuwait to transport the Costa Rica national team to play the match.
The Iraqi government news agency quoted a government source, who did not disclose his name, “A private plane has been allocated to transport the Costa Rican national team delegation from Kuwait to Basra for a friendly match agreed upon Thursday at the Basra International Stadium.”
The source added, “The governor of Basra, Asaad Al-Aidani, and the head of the Iraqi Football Association, went to Kuwait to accompany the Costa Rican national team by private plane to Basra.”
Before entering Iraqi territory across the Kuwaiti border on Wednesday evening, the Iraqi authorities demanded that the passports of the members of the Costa Rican delegation be stamped. Its officials refused that procedure, under the pretext that there was a prior agreement with the Iraqi side regarding their entry into Iraqi territory by land without resorting to stamping passports.
It has not yet been confirmed that the Costa Rican national team agreed to return to Basra, accompanied by the Iraqi official, by private plane.
The Costa Rican national team is in Kuwait, where it is preparing for the finals, which start on Sunday. He will play his first match on Wednesday against Spain in Group E, which also includes Germany and Japan.
For its part, the Directorate of Nationality and General Passports of the Ministry of the Interior issued, on Thursday, a clarification regarding the entry of the Costa Rican national team into Basra, while noting that no person is allowed to enter Iraq without stamping his passport.
Director of Nationality and Passports Brigadier General Hazem Al-Lami saidIraqi News Agency (INA), “The delegation of the Costa Rican national team demanded to enter Iraq without stamping its passports,” indicating that “the Costa Rican delegation, consisting of 57 people, arrived at one o’clock at night at the Iraqi border through the Safwan border crossing, and was received by the Directorate of Passports and Security Services, where it refrained from Handing over passports and requesting entry to Iraq without including their information in the data storage system.
He added, “This procedure is contrary to Iraqi law, which does not allow anyone to enter Iraqi territory without stamping their passport,” noting that “everyone is obligated to implement Iraqi law.”
He emphasized that “the Iraqi side provided a lot of facilities to the Costa Rican delegation, but the delegation refused to hand over the passports despite trying to convince it of the need to comply with the laws.”