Ghana wants neutral venue for WCup playoff
GENEVA (AP) — Ghana wants a neutral venue for next month’s crucial World Cup playoff against Egypt, saying it’s too dangerous to play the game in Cairo.
In a letter to FIFA published on its website, the Ghana Football Association said the match should be moved to a “safe and secure” venue.
“Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt,” Ghana officials wrote.
At least 51 people were killed in riots in Cairo last weekend linked to the ousting of elected state president Mohammed Morsi.
The GFA said some of its players expressed “grave concern over their safety for the match.”
“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,” the letter stated.
FIFA said on Tuesday it received Ghana’s request and would monitor the security situation before making a decision.
Egypt is scheduled to host Ghana in Cairo on Nov. 19 in the second leg to decide which team advances to next year’s tournament in Brazil. The first leg is next Tuesday in Kumasi.
The GFA said 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, Algeria’s team bus was attacked by fans hurling rocks on the journey between the airport and a hotel in Cairo.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee said the Egypt FA “failed to take all the necessary security precautions to ensure the safety of the Algerian delegation.” It also fined the Egypt FA 100,000 Swiss francs (then $88,000).
Egypt’s World Cup qualifying campaign has been a success despite being buffeted by the political turmoil in the country.
The playoff draw last month paired Egypt with powerful Ghana, which reached the quarterfinals at the 2010 World Cup when it beat the U.S. in the round of 16.
Now, FIFA could be forced by security risks to deny Egypt and its fans the chance to see the match on home ground.
“Events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly,” the Ghana letter said.
If FIFA grants the request, Egypt would be the second of 10 African playoff teams denied a home match.
Senegal will play its home second leg against Ivory Coast in Casablanca, Morocco, on Nov. 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.