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By ESPN Staff

AFC demand reinstatement of Iraqi FA

BANGKOK, May 22 (Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has demanded the immediate reinstatement of Iraq's soccer chiefs following a government order to dissolve the federation.

AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam said Iraq's government had no right to disband democratically-elected officials, adding that the AFC would not recognise any other body.

'The Iraq Football Association and its executive committee are democratically elected bodies and only its congress has the right to dissolve them,' Bin Hammam said in a statement.

'AFC will recognise and deal with only the democratically elected committee and office-bearers.'

A row erupted between the Iraqi government officials and the country's Olympic committee and soccer federation on Wednesday, which could jeopardise the country's participation in the Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Cup.

Bin Hammam said Iraq's soccer bosses had done 'excellent work' in winning the Asian Cup last year, overcoming chronic cash shortages and the constant threat of violence.

The incident is the latest setback for the AFC and comes a week after Bin Hammam pledged to rid the game of political interference.

'AFC's appeal to the sports minister of Iraq is to restore the integrity of the association so that it can carry out its normal activities,' he said.

Since their fairytale Asian Cup victory last year, Iraq have endured a miserable start to their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, winning just one of their last four matches.

They sacked Norwegian coach Egil Olsen after just three games in charge and are currently bottom of Group 1.

Iraq take on Thailand in a warm-up match on Sunday ahead of their June 2 qualifier with Australia.

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