World Cup Qualifier: Ghana Requests Venue Change


Ghana says it has written to World Football Governing Body — FIFA — requesting that the return leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff with Egypt scheduled on 19 November be moved to another venue.

The country wants the match to be moved to a “safe and secure venue”, in the wake of political unrests in the North African country which has claimed hundreds of lives.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) is asking FIFA to re-evaluate the decision to host the game in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, according to a letter sent to FIFA on Monday.

“The Ghana Football Association (GFA) wishes to kindly request FIFA to move the venue for the 2014 World Cup Qualifying second-leg play-off between Egypt and Ghana on 19 November.

“The match should be moved from Egypt to a safe and secure venue,’’ said the letter quoted from the GFA website.

GFA said its request was premised on the “alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt.’’

It said since the date, kick-off and venue for the second leg match were set, no official information had been received by the GFA from Egypt Football Association, contrary to article 19 (2) of the Regulations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The letter said:“Unfortunately, we have learnt about the date, kick-off and venue for the second leg match between Egypt and Ghana from the media.

“We are still waiting to receive the said information as per the relevant regulations and the letter dated 16 September, 2013 signed by Mr Gordon Savic, Head of FIFA World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers to the 10 countries participating in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Playoffs for Africa.

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“The GFA is gravely concerned that for the past two years, Egyptian authorities have only allowed football matches to be played without spectators, yet Ghana has reportedly been asked to play Egypt in Cairo before fans.

“It is noteworthy that Egypt played all their home qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guinea in Egypt without spectators.’’

GFA said Egyptian local clubs — Al Ahly and Zamalek — played their recent CAF Champions League matches behind closed-doors.

The security authorities refused the supporters access to the games because of the current turmoil in Egypt, adding that just two weeks ago a fan of a local club, Zamalek, was killed following clashes outside the club’s headquarters.

“Since then the violence in Egypt has escalated, leaving the GFA and some of the Black Stars (Ghana’s national team) players to express their grave concerns over their safety for the match scheduled for Cairo in November 2013,’’ the football association said.

GFA also said on Sunday, 50 people were killed following protests in Cairo, which led to clashes between security forces and supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi.

“The violence has shown no sign of abating with at least nine Egyptian soldiers and police officers killed in two attacks in different regions on Monday, according to media reports,’’ it added.

The first leg of the playoff will be played in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi on 15 October.

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