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FIFA: Cameroon ban stands

16 July 2013, 12:06

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Johannesburg - Cameroon club Coton Sport won't be allowed to play in the African Champions League this weekend because the country's football federation is still suspended for government interference, FIFA said on Monday.

Coton Sport's ineligibility adds to the complications surrounding Africa's top club competition with Egyptian rivals Zamalek and Al Ahly, the defending champion, without a venue for their meeting because of the political turmoil and threat of violence in their country.

The eight-team group stage, which will ultimately decide Africa's Champions League semifinalists, is due to have its first round of games on Saturday and Sunday.

FIFA said that it was in contact with various parties in Cameroon but conditions had not yet been met for the suspension to be lifted after the country was banned on July 4. For Cameroon's clubs and national team to be allowed to compete internationally again, a temporary "normalization committee" needs to be formed and take over the running of the federation, FIFA ruled.

"We confirm as well that as the Cameroonian FA is suspended the (Coton Sport) game can't take place," the world body said on Monday.

Cameroon's suspension followed a contested June 19 election in which Mohammed Iya was re-elected as head of the federation despite being under arrest and facing a possible trial for alleged financial mismanagement while in charge of the Cameroon Cotton Development Corporation — ironically the company that finances the Coton Sport club.

Coton Sport will not be able to play against Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport on Saturday, FIFA said, and might not be able to take part as one of the last eight teams in the Champions League altogether despite Antoine Depadoue Eyenga Essomba, a vice president of the Cameroon federation, saying that the ban was a "blunder" by FIFA and that the federation would challenge it at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Africa's ruling body, the Confederation of African Football, has not yet made public any decision over Coton Sport's participation despite there being just five days to go until the first round of group matches.

CAF also hasn't ruled on the venue for the Zamalek-Al Ahly game on Sunday, although the Egyptian federation has proposed that it take place in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna after authorities couldn't guarantee security in Cairo or the Mediterranean city of Alexandria because of spiraling violence in Egypt.

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities last week to protest the removal of Mohammed Morsi as president, and prolonged unrest in Egypt has caused major disruption to domestic football.

African football has suffered from a catalog of problems this year, including countries being forced to forfeit matches in World Cup qualifying for fielding ineligible players.

Cameroon's ban and the violence in Egypt also could affect the World Cup qualifiers, which will return for a final round of group games in September ahead of the decisive 10-team playoffs at the end of the year for Africa's five places at Brazil 2014.

- AP



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