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Sheikh Salman has urged the local government to ensure that spectators are safe at football matches and insisted that the game should be used to unite people

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa has strongly condemned the series of attacks on football stadia in Iraq.

A bomb recently went off at a Baghdad arena, killing 15 people, mostly youngsters, during a domestic league match between Karbala and Air Force. 

Several Karbala players were also wounded as a result of the incident, while coach Mohammed Abbas died from injuries sustained in the bombing.

Speaking out about the incidents, Sheikh Salman has urged the Iraqi government to boost the level of security and ensure the safety of all stakeholders during football matches.

“It is disheartening to know that young lives were lost watching a football game," he told reporters. 

"I would like to request the Iraqi government to ensure safety and security of spectators in and around stadiums.

“The death of coach Mohammed Abbas is a loss to Asian football. On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire Iraqi football family. 

“I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Karbala players and would like to urge the security forces that their primary focus should be to protect the players and spectators and this act definitely deserves condemnation.

“The beautiful game is regarded as the best form to bring peace and harmony but certain elements are trying to use it for their personal benefit.

“I would like to strongly ask them to utilise the power of football for better means.”