Sports News of Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Ghana has requested that the return leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff with Egypt on November 19 2013 be moved to a safe and secure venue.
Following recent political unrest in the North African country which has claimed innocent lives, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has asked FIFA, the organisers of the qualifier to take a look at the security situation of that country and re-evaluate the decision to host the game in Cairo.
In a letter sent to FIFA on Monday night, the GFA expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation in Egypt.
"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 19th November, 2013 from Egypt to a safe and secure venue.
“Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt. Since the date, kick-off and venue for the second-leg match were set, no official information has been received by the GFA from the Egypt Football Association or FIFA contrary to article 19 (2) of the Regulations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“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 September 16, 2013 signed by Mr. Gordon Savic, Head of FIFA World Cup & Olympic Qualifiers to the ten countries participating in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Play-offs for Africa.
“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.
“Local clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek played their recent CAF Champions League matches behind closed doors as the security authorities refused the supporters access to the games because of the current turmoil in Egypt.
“Just two weeks ago a fan of a local club Zamalek was killed following clashes between ultras and security forces outside the club’s headquarters.
“Since then the violence in Egypt has escalated leaving the GFA and some of the Black Stars players to express their grave concern over their safety for the match scheduled for Cairo in November, 2013.
“Just 24 hours ago, 50 people were killed following protests in the Cairo which led to clashes between security forces and supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Thousands of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi fought with security forces in Cairo, in the most intense violence for several weeks, the BBC has reported.
“The violence has shown no sign of abating with at least nine Egyptian soldiers and police officers have been killed in two attacks in different regions today, according to media reports.
“We are seriously concerned about the security and safety of our delegation and spectators if the match would be played in Egypt as events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly.
“We are aware of precedents set in countries with security concerns whose home football game including World Cup qualifying matches were moved from their home venues to safer ground in other countries. Notable amongst them were Liberia whose matches during the periods of political and civil unrest were played in Ghana. Cote D’Ivoire also played some of theirs in Ghana because of civil disturbances in their country.
"Due to the civil and political problems, Libya played their football games in Tunisia. Between 1st June 2012 and 10th September, 2013, the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches involving the Central African Republic were moved to neutral venues due to political instability in that country".
“Much as we sympathize with our brothers at the Egyptian Football Association, we are highly concerned about the security and safety of our players, officials and supporters and would like FIFA to take the necessary steps to protect lives and from both Ghana and Egypt during the second-leg game.
“The GFA is asking FIFA to re-evaluate the decision to host the World Cup playoff in Egypt in November as the safety of our delegation would be at risk if the match is played in Cairo.
“Consequently, we hereby kindly request that in consonance with FIFA’s tradition in similar circumstances, the match be moved to a neutral venue to forestall the potential but avoidable threat to life and property.”