Soccer's world governing body FIFA has rejected a request by Iraq to expel Qatar from World Cup qualifying after it fielded an ineligible player. Although the player in question, Brazilian-born Emerson, has since been banned by FIFA, the Zurich bureaucrats say that Iraq's complaint was filed too late to allow it to replace Qatar in the Asian final qualifying round.
Emerson played for Brazil at youth level and was therefore apparently ineligible, and was also reportedly detained by Brazilian police in 2006 for falsifying his birth certificate. Qatar, meanwhile, has made up for its low population -- estimated at around 1.4 million made up largely of foreign workers -- by recruiting and naturalizing citizens from around the world to play on its national team.
Asian champion Iraq had looked set to qualify for the final round before losing, 1-0, to Qatar on Sunday in a "home" game played in Dubai. Instead, Australia and Qatar advanced from the group. Reuters also reported Wednesday that Iraq's coach Adnan Hamad had quit, citing "political squabbles and poor organization."