Wednesday, 15 August 2012, 05:38 GMT
Kirkuk sports club plagued with debt

This picture depicts Kirkuk football team./PRESS PHOTO

The Kurdish Globe
By Zakaria Muhammed

"Kirkuk club is now in a financial crisis;

Despite mustering good results and showing wonderful performances in most of the championships and tournaments that Kirkuk sports club has participating in, the club continues to be plagued by a financial crisis.

All the clubs in the Kurdistan Region are funded by the Kurdistan Olympic Committee but the allotted budget is insufficient to cover the clubs' expenses.

There are a number of giant clubs in the Kurdistan Region that not only depend on the budget allotted by the Olympic Committee but also have other sources of income. Behind any giant club there is a political power; clubs like Erbil, Duhok and Zakho spend hundreds of millions of Iraqi Dinars every year in bargain signings with local and international players and to meet the clubs' operational needs.

Deprived of the same financial clout that the other giant Kurdish clubs have, over the last five years Kirkuk club has been suffering from a notable financial crisis that at times has paralyzed the club.

"Kirkuk club is now in a financial crisis; if the current problems the club is suffering from are not resolved in quick manner, the club will face a disaster," said Zaki Mardan, Kirkuk sports club secretary. Mardan also said "being in debt while not receiving sufficient budget for the club's expenses, our club started to go through hard stages and passed some miserable days."

Mardan criticized the Kirkuk governorate for not supporting his club despite the good results the football team has achieved in the Iraqi domestic league.

"Kirkuk's representatives at the Kurdistan Olympic Committee are the only side helping our club financially, although it is inadequate. Unfortunately the city officials, especially the governor, haven't responded to our demands so far," said a disappointed Mardan.

According to Mardan, Kirkuk sports club receives only 10 million IDs monthly from the Kurdish government and the money isn't sufficient to pay for the club expenses and the players' salaries.

In spite of being grateful to the little support given by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Mardan believes his team would do much better if it is supported financially by the Iraqi government as well.

Although the Iraqi government never shows any concession to Kirkuk being part of Iraq, it never pays attention to the condition of sports clubs' in Kirkuk as it does for the clubs from other cities.

Mardan disclosed "we need 300 million IDs in order to pay back the debts we borrowed for the club expenses and the contracts we signed with players this year. Unfortunately the Iraqi government has stopped funding us since a year ago,"

Although Kirkuk club is based in a city which is rich with oil, according to Mardan the club doesn't own even a bus. If the club needs to travel to another city for playing, it needs to rent a bus for the transportation of its players.

Aiming to get out of the crisis, Kirkuk sports club officials have knocked at many doors, but only the Kurdistan Olympic Committee seemed to have responded to them.

"We are pretty much aware of Kirkuk club's problems and we have tried to financially support the club as best as we could. But the support we provided were within the limits of our capacity," said Nawzad Qader, Kurdistan Olympic Committee representative in Kirkuk.

Qader also said "we have already informed KRG Prime Minister, Nechervan Barzani, about the problems through official letters. We expect the problems will be solved in the near future."

Despite all the difficulties the club has faced, the club's football team, with the current players and a coaching staff, is still doing well in the Iraqi league. It is placed 12th with 47 points.

Kirkuk sports club was founded in 1947. Its name was changed to Wahid Huzairan in 1977, before the name was changed back to Kirkuk once again in 1991. Its football team participated in the Iraqi premier league in 1983 for the first time. After relegation to the First Division league, it won the Iraqi league title and was promoted back to the premier league in 2001.