Justin Meram has withdrawn from the Iraqi National Team squad ahead of their pivotal qualifiers against Australia and Saudi Arabia because of travel concerns. First reported by SoccerIraq.net on twitter. and confirmed by the Iraqi Football Association on with a statement on Facebook.
Translation of the Iraqi FA’s statement has been provided by Sam Fahmi:
Iraqi national team technical director Basil Gorgis has confirmed the absence of our national team player, Justin Meram from the upcoming matches against Australia and Saudi Arabia in the first and second rounds of the deciding world cup qualifications round. Korkes added that the technical staff exhausted a considerable effort with Meram to change his mind about not coming to Iran due to the recent decisions by the American government with regards to it’s relations with the Islamic Republic. He (Gorgis) tried to point out to the player and his family that his entrance to Tehran will not affect his presence in America. That was not convincing even with assertions from the Association’s legal expert Dr. Nazar Ahmed. So, the national team technical staff decided to scratch his name from the list of player that will participate in the two upcoming games, hinting that the final list for the national team will be released tomorrow at the latest on the Association’s official website.
The Iraqi national team is scheduled to face Australia on March 23rd with the game being played in Tehran, Iran due to security concerns. They they travel to Saudi Arabia for a game on March 28th.
Columbus Crew SC released the following statement Saturday afternoon.
We are aware of the reports on Justin Meram’s status with the Iraq National Team. Justin will not be available for comment ahead of tonight’s match
Justin Meram released a statement about the situation confirming his decision to step away due to “reasons outside of my control”.
Meram does cite the current FIFA sanction not allowing the team to play games in Iraq due to the unstable situation, however Meram has played in Iran during previous Iraqi games. He also confirms that he’d like to return to the national team as circumstances permit.