Lifestyle & Belief

Iraqi football team crushes Syria in first home game in two years


Iraqi boys kicking around soccer ball in Baghdad.


Daniel Berehulak

Iraq's football team beat Syria 2-1 in Baghdad on Tuesday in the country's first home game since 2011, reported the Associated Press.

As many as 50,000 Iraqis squeezed into the stadium for the high-security event -- monitored from above by helicopters -- after FIFA last week lifted a ban on hosting friendlies there, said AP, citing Iraqi Football Federation general secretary Tariq Ahmed. 

Popular Iraqi player Younis Mahmoud made the first Iraqi score of the game, delighting fans, reported AP

Ahmed told AP the stadium was so packed that 20,000 people were left standing outside the the building despite the ever-present threat of violence -- which is why FIFA had prohibited games in Iraq.

Indeed, hours after the match explosions and gunfire around the capital killed at least six and injured nearly a dozen, said AP

A World Cup qualifier game is scheduled in Iraq on June 11.