Name of Iraq's 'Arab Gulf Cup' tournament sparks anger in Iran | News

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Tehran summons Iraqi ambassador and complains to FIFA over the use of the name for a waterway that separates Iran from several Arab countries.

Tehran, Iran – Iran has summoned the ambassador of neighboring Iraq to protest the use of the name “Arab Gulf Cup” for a regional football tournament as part of a long-running dispute over the naming of the waterway.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Wednesday that Tehran had communicated its dissatisfaction over the use of the name to the Iraqi envoy, despite the “strategic, fraternal and deep relations” they share.

“Mr Sudani, the Iraqi prime minister, has corrected this problem in a post that was recently published in a virtual space,” he told state media in an apparent reference to a social media post by Mohammed al-Sudani in which he uses “Gulf Cup” to describe the tournament.

Iran and the region’s Arab states have fought for decades over what the main waterway that separates them should be called. Tehran insists on using the Persian Gulf. Although this name is common in the English-speaking world, many Arab countries insist on the Persian Gulf.

The last dispute began last week, when the port city of Basra, in the south, hosted the opening ceremony of the tournament, which brought together Iraq’s Arab neighbors in the region – Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen – for the last edition of the soccer tournament.

Iraq is hosting the competition for just the second time, and the first time since 1979. The two-week competition was heralded as a sign that the country is emerging from its political turmoil during which it was without a government for a year and saw continued protests. It is also an opportunity to strengthen ties with other Arab countries.

Al-Sudani reportedly described the tournament as the Persian Gulf Cup at the opening ceremony, as did FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Football’s global governing body has also used the name of the Persian Gulf Cup in its social media posts, as has Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shi’ite leader whose policy has increasingly been at odds with Tehran over the years.

While Iran has long been opposed to any attempt to use the Persian Gulf on the international stage, it appears that its use in its neighbor Iraq, where it has strong government ties, has particularly angered it.

Iran’s football federation has said it will officially protest to FIFA and has decided to name the country’s annual football competition the Persian Gulf Cup. It also emblazoned “Persian Gulf” in large letters on seats at Azadi Stadium in Tehran during a cup match on Tuesday.

Sport has long been used to lobby for the preferred names of countries in the region for the Gulf. Iran’s top league football competition is called the Persian Gulf Pro League while the UAE’s domestic competition was formerly called the Arabian Gulf League.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters on Monday that Tehran had protested against the use of the “fake” name, while a lawmaker apologized to Iraqi officials, something they refused to do. .

The dispute erupted as the Iraqi prime minister, who came to power with the backing of Tehran-backed factions late last year after a year of political stalemate, has been trying to balance Iraq’s relations between Iran and Arab countries.

Al-Sudani made his first trip to Tehran as prime minister in late November, meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi.

He also attended a summit between Arab and Chinese leaders in Riyadh last month, as well as the second iteration of the Baghdad Conference on Cooperation and Partnership, hosted by Jordan.

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