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Iran protests to Iraq over Gulf football cup name

Iran has protested to Iraq over the use of the name “Arabian Gulf” for a regional football competition held in the neighbouring country, state media reported Wednesday.

The Islamic republic insists the body of water should be called the “Persian Gulf” and has repeatedly raised the issue with countries and organisations that refer to it otherwise.

Iraq on Friday welcomed Arab national teams from across the region to its southern city of Basra for the 25th edition of the competition officially known as “Arabian Gulf Cup”.

It is the first time Iraq has hosted the biennial competition — commonly referred to as the “Gulf Cup” — since it was launched in 1979.

“We summoned the Iraqi ambassador” on Sunday over the issue, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

“Although we have strategic, brotherly and deep relations with Iraq, we have clearly expressed our protest about this issue,” he said.

“We reflected the sensitivity of the great nation of Iran to the use of the exact and complete term of Persian Gulf to the Iraqi side.”

The name of the vital oil shipping lane has for years been a bone of contention between Iran and its Arab neighbours.

The 2010 edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games, due to have taken place in Tehran, was postponed and later cancelled over the dispute.

In the same year, Iran warned that airlines using the term “Arabian Gulf” on inflight maps would be barred from its airspace.

In 2016, Oman Air switched off a map that labelled the waterway as the “Persian Gulf”, after a storm of criticism on social media.

In 2012, Iran criticised internet giant Google for leaving the waterway nameless on its online map services, which now refer to it as the “Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf).”

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