Source AP ©

Insurgent lawmaker replaced with former soccer star in Iraq

A former football star will replace the sacked Sunni lawmaker who was said to leave the assembly to join insurgents in Iraq , a spokesman said Friday.

The Sunni Accordance Front picked Ahmed Radhi, national team captain and a soccer great in the 1980s, to take the seat of Abdul Nasser al-Janabi, who was officially sacked from the assembly after declaring in June he was joining the Sunni-led insurgents here.

The Sunni bloc's spokesman, Muhanad al-Issawi, told The Associated Press that Radhi, 43, was chosen to "support the youth and sport in Iraq."

Radhi, who lives in Jordan, is to return to Baghdad next week, al-Issawi said.

The parliament is to vote Saturday on Radhi, but the vote is expected to be a formality.

Radhi was Iraq's most famous forward in mid 1980s and scored the only World Cup goal for Iraq ever - in a game against Belgium in the 1986 tournament in Mexico. Belgium won that match 2-1.

After the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, Radhi became the manager of al-Zawra soccer club in the Iraqi premiere league. He left the job and moved to Amman, Jordan, after receiving threats and after the kidnapping of Ahmed al-Hijiya, the chairman of Iraq's National Olympic committee.

In 2005 elections, Radhi campaigned for the Sunni group but failed to win a seat in parliament. The Iraq Accordance Front, an alliance of three Sunni parties, holds 44 of parliament's 275 seats.

Soccer is popular in Iraq, where the national team's successes in the past three years have provided a joyous distraction from the daily violence. When Iraq won the Asian Cup soccer championship this summer, Baghdad erupted in raucous street parties to celebrate the victory despite the precarious security situation.

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