Sierra Leone Cancels All Soccer Matches as Ebola Virus Spreads

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE - JUNE 14:  Teko Modise of South Africa gives instructions during the AFCON and FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifier match between Sierra Leone and South Africa held at the National Stadium June 14, 2008 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

The deadly Ebola virus that has spread throughout Africa has made its mark on the sports world.   

While Sierra Leone was attempting to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, its home matches have been canceled for the safety of all those involved, according to the Associated Press (via Fox Sports):

Sierra Leone has canceled all football matches because of the deadly Ebola virus and will seek to play African Cup qualifiers in other countries.

The Sierra Leone Football Association announced the move on Tuesday after an emergency meeting. It follows a public health emergency declared last week by the country's president banning public gatherings.

The strain of Ebola has been especially prevalent in West African countries like Sierra Leone, as shown by these maps courtesy of Lydia Polgreen of The New York Times:

Kate Kelland of Reuters notes that there have been close to 900 deaths already recorded with over 1,600 people affected by the disease. 

Obviously, keeping the citizens and the players safe is much more important than what happens on the pitch. The governing association needs to do its best to find a better location for the competition to take place.

Still, Sierra Leone is hoping to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996. The squad has already made it through two rounds to remain in the hunt for the continental tournament.

It will now compete in a group stage that includes two matches against each of Ivory Coast, Cameroon and DR Congo. The round will begin in early September and run through October before the final tournament is decided.

It will not be easy to qualify for the prestigious tournament, but this group will do its best to keep competing.


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