Sven-Goran Eriksson 'offered improved pay deal' to be Iraq's national football team coach

Sven-Goran Eriksson 'offered improved pay deal' to be Iraq's national football team coach
The veteran Swede is poised to take the Lions of Mesopotamia to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after an improved offer was approved by Iraq's Football Association.
3 min read
01 August, 2018
Iraq FA officials Sharar Haydar, Falah Moussa and Ghalib al-Zamili met Eriksson last week [Photo:@IraqFPG]

Sven-Goran Eriksson, the veteran football manager, is set to step in as the Iraqi national team's new coach - if he agrees to a new pay deal put to him by Iraq's Football Association on Wednesday.

Several unconfirmed reports have been floating around Iraqi social media claiming the 70-year-old, who managed England's Three Lions national squad between 2001 and 2006, received an offer last week to guide the Lions of Mesopotamia through the forthcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. 

The rumours began to swirl during this summer's World Cup, but in an Istanbul meeting last Wednesday, Eriksson reportedly agreed a deal "in principle" with representatives of the Iraqi FA.

Iraq FA officials Sharar Haydar, Falah Moussa and Ghalib al-Zamili were spotted meeting Eriksson, after "tough and lengthy negotiations". The offer was being sent for consideration by the Iraq FA's board of directors on Monday.

It was understood, however, that the globe-hopping Swede was holding out for an improved financial offer. In the meantime, Eriksson flew to Cameroon, where "the untameable lions" are also interested in his services, reportedly also offering him a contract.

The Iraqi federation has reportedly worked around the clock in the past few days to find extra resources to boost Eriksson's draft contract. The exact details of the pay deal have not yet been made public, but the improved offer was reportedly agreed by the IFA board on Wednesday.

Eriksson is a major signing for Iraq, an up and coming team on the West Asian football scene, after the national squad had a year and a half with Bassim Qasim at the helm. The Swede has worked with many of the biggest names in European football, including Roma, Lazio, Manchester City, Leicester City, Benfica and others.

He most recently spent four years in China, working at the top clubs in the Chinese Super League - Guangzhou R&F and Shanghai SIPG. 

On the international level, Eriksson has coached Mexico and Ivory Coast as well as England.

Eriksson guided England's "Golden Generation", having succeeded Kevin Keegan in 2001 to guide the Three Lions to two World Cup quarter-finals (2002, 2006), a Euro quarter final (2004) - all of which England lost on penalties.

Eriksson's connection with Iraq began back in 2007, after Iraq's shock victory at the Asian Cup, when he tried to sign midfielder Nashat Akram for Manchester City. The UK government, however, had other ideas - and turned down the Iraqi's work permit, blocking the move.

Iraq is currently 89th in the FIFA World Rankings and will play Palestine in Al-Ram this August. In the past year FIFA officially lifted the ban on international hosting matches in the country, and Eriksson and his players will enjoy exceptional support from the Iraqi crowd in stadia in Erbil, Kerbala and Basra.


Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here