Sports

CAF ban on African stadiums throws World Cup qualifiers in doubt

(SATSports) – Several of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers set to be played next month may not take place after the Confederation of African Football banned 20 of its 54 member countries from using their stadiums to host international games because they failed to meet “minimum requirements”.

In all, eight countries which are due to participate in the qualifiers were among those who had their stadium accreditations revoked by CAF.

The countries are Africa’s top-ranked team Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Central African Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Mali and Namibia.

Among the reasons cited by CAF for the cancellations were substandard fields, “poor and inadequate” dugout areas for team officials and the lack of fixed seating for fans.

The decision was communicated to the countries on Sunday.

Senegal’s 60,000-seat Stade Léopold Senghor in Dakar is closed for renovations and a stadium in the city of Thies that the national team used for recent games has not been approved. Mali’s 50,000-seat Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako also hasn’t been accredited. As a result, both countries with no approved venues.

Member countries without any approved venues have until Friday to find neutral venues where they will stage their home matches.

This means there will be added cross-border travel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in several COVID-19-related disputes in continental and club football across the continent.

Sierra Leone is also affected by the decision even if it is no longer a participant in World Cup qualifying. Sierra Leone is scheduled to play Benin in June to determine which between the two countries will qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The game, which was rescheduled due to a COVID-19-related dispute, will now not take place in Sierra Leone.

Patrice Motsepe, CAF’s current president, rose to office earlier this year with one of his pledges centering on improving the continent’s football infrastructure.

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