The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Despite Ebola fears, African football body says no more venue changes in qualifying

  • Print

DOUALA, Cameroon - Despite a deadly Ebola outbreak in a fifth country, the Confederation of African Football said Thursday that qualifiers for the continent's top tournament will go ahead as planned next month, sweeping aside protests from a number of fearful teams.

CAF's decision that there would be no more venue changes forces the Cameroon and Republic of Congo squads to travel to countries where people have died from the virus, and compels Ivory Coast — with big names like Manchester City's Yaya Toure — to host players and officials from Ebola-affected Sierra Leone.

"As earlier announced, CAF will reassess the situation in mid-September," the African confederation said in a statement, but maintained there would be "no amendments" to the schedule for African Cup qualifying games in the first two weeks of next month.

CAF had already been forced to move early qualifiers out of Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of the worst-affected countries in a West African outbreak where more than 1,500 people have now died.

But Nigeria — where six people have died — will still host Republic of Congo in the southern city of Calabar on Sept. 6, CAF ruled. CAF also insisted that Cameroon travel to the central African country of Congo, where 13 people have died in a new outbreak that's not related to the West African crisis, experts say.

Cameroon and Republic of Congo both expressed fears over travelling and asked CAF to move the games to neutral countries.

"We have done what we ought to do," Cameroon football federation President Joseph Owona said of the country's request for the game to be relocated.

Ivory Coast's football federation was already working to find a solution for its Sept. 6 home game against Sierra Leone in Abidjan after its government stopped travel to and from West African nations with the virus and said the Sierra Leoneans wouldn't be allowed in.

Cameroon's federation said it would follow its government's advice over the trip to Lubumbashi in southern Congo.

If governments overrule football bodies and ultimately prevent players from travelling to or arriving from Ebola-hit countries despite CAF's orders, some of Africa's top teams may be forced to back out of the African Cup of Nations.

Ivory Coast and Cameroon both went to the World Cup and boast an array of Europe-based stars.

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that Ebola cases could exceed 20,000 in the West African outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Just over 3,000 cases have been reported.

CAF also dismissed Mali's request to have its game in Algeria moved after a Cameroonian player was killed after being hit by a rock thrown by fans at a league game over the weekend. Mali said it feared violence against its players, but CAF ordered the game will stay in Blida, near Algiers.

___

Imray reported from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.