Justin Meram withdraws from Iraq national team over travel ban concerns

Justin Meram, an American-Iraqi dual citizen, will miss two critical World Cup qualifiers for Iraq over travel concerns.
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Justin Meram, an American-Iraqi dual citizen, will miss two critical World Cup qualifiers for Iraq over travel concerns.

The Iraq FA released a statement, which was translated here by massivereport.com. Meram chose not to travel to Iran for a March 23 game against Australia in Tehran (hosting due to safety concerns) because of American policy regarding entry and exit between the United States and Muslim-majority countries including Iran.

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.

Meram, 28, was born in Michigan and plays for Columbus Crew. His parents were born in Iraq, allowing him to receive eligibility for the national team.

Iraq also plays Saudi Arabia March 28.