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Iraq refuse to wear black armbands in bronze medal match
Agence France-Presse, PTI
Athens, August 27, 2004
First Published: 22:04 IST(27/8/2004)
Last Updated: 22:04 IST(27/8/2004)
Iraq's footballers have refused to join their Olympic bronze medal opponents Italy in donning black armbands as a mark of respect for murdered Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni.

The reporter was executed by an Islamic group in Baghdad on Thursday in an act widely condemned throughout the world.

Iraq and Italy meet in Salonika on Friday for the bronze medal but Iraqi coach Adnan Hamd said that his team will not wear black armbands although he said he respected the Italians' wishes.

"We will not be wearing black armbands. The Italians will be and we respect their choice," Hamd said.

"We regret the death of the Italian journalist but it's necessary also to think of the hundreds of Iraqis who have died each day during resistance to the occupation.

"It would be necessary to wear an armband every day. We sent a message to the kidnappers to free the journalist but sadly it was in vain."

An Islamist group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq executed Baldoni after holding him for a week, Arabic-language satellite news channel Al-Jazeera reported on Thursday.

The Qatar-based channel said it had received a videotape showing the journalist after his execution, but had decided not to release it as it would be too shocking for viewers.

Al-Jazeera quoted a statement attributed to the kidnappers saying the Italian had been slain under sharia law.

It said the decision "was taken after the refusal by Italy to reply favourably to the demand (by the group) to withdraw its soldiers from Iraq within 48 hours.


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