ZURICH: FIFA is considering a request from Ghana’s football federation to order a neutral venue for their World Cup playoff against Egypt next month writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Ghanaians are worried about the danger of a repetition in Cairo of the political violence which has scarred the squares and streets of the Egyptian capital since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
In a latter to the world federation the Ghanaian federation has said the tie should be moved to a “safe and secure” venue. It added: “Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt.
“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 from both Ghana and Egypt during the second-leg game.
“Events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly.”
More than 50 people died in further rioting in Cairo last weekend and Ghanaian players had signalled “grave concern over their safety.”
The first leg is next Tuesday in Kumasi and the return in Cairo on November 19 to decide who goes through to the finals in Brazil next year.
The Egyptian authorities have barred spectators from football matches for the past two years, including World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guinea.
The first two qualifiers were in Alexandria because FIFA banned Egypt from playing in the capital after violence at a 2010 World Cup playoff.
Four years ago, the EFA was fined after Algeria’s team bus was attacked by fans hurling rocks on the journey between the airport and a hotel in Cairo.
All things considered, Egypt’s World Cup progress is remarkable.
If FIFA grants the request, Egypt would be the second of the 10 African playoff teams unable to play at home.
Senegal will play their second leg against Ivory Coast in Casablanca, Morocco, on November 16. Last October, rioting at the stadium in Dakar when the same two teams met in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier forced the match to be abandoned.