Source AP ©

Iraqi soccer star becomes new lawmaker

A Sunni lawmaker fired from the largest parliament bloc after declaring in June he would join the insurgency in Iraq, have been replaced by a former soccer star Monday.

Ahmed Radhi, national team captain and a soccer great in the 1980s, officially took the Sunni Accordance Front seat vacated by Abdul Nasser al-Janabi.

The bloc had nominated Radhi, 43, last week, to "support the youth and sport in Iraq," the Sunni bloc's spokesman, Muhanad al-Issawi, said.

"I will join the Sport and Youth Committee in parliament, beside my political activities as lawmaker," Radhi said after his swearing-in.

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, he became the manager of al-Zawra soccer club in the Iraqi premier 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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