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REPORTS OF IRAQ TORTURE PROBED

Soccer's world governing body is investigating reports Saddam Hussein's son had the Iraqi team beaten after it lost to Kazakstan and was eliminated from World Cup qualifying competition.

"An inquiry has been launched," FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren told the Associated Press Friday, adding that the body was asking sporting contacts in the Middle East for any information.

Herren said FIFA is taking extremely seriously the accusations against Odai Hussein, Saddam's eldest son and the head of the Iraqi soccer federation.

On June 6, the Iraqi national team lost at home in the first of its two matches against Kazakstan in the Asian division Group 9 of the World Cup qualifying competition.

The Sunday Times of London reported over the weekend that Odai ordered the Iraqi team to be taken to a military base, caned on the soles of their feet, and beaten on their backs.

Earlier this month, Iraqi dissidents claimed that Odai ordered the team imprisoned and tortured and their hair and mustaches shaved off on their return to Iraq following their second defeat by Kazakstan on June 29.

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