African Soccer Body Bans Matches in Libya and Ivory Coast

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African Soccer Body Bans Matches in Libya and Ivory Coast
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Gadaffi fight for survival throws monkey wrench into soccer

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has ordered an African Champions League match between Libya's Al Ittihad, the club that Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gaddafi's controversial son Saadi used to play for, and Ivory Coast's Jeunesse Club Abidjan, to be played in a third country because of the political violence in the two African nations.

The United Nations Security Council declared this week a no-fly zone above Libya in a bid to prevent Gadaffi from using his air force against protesters and rebels demanding an end to the Libyan leader’s 41-year rule. Gadaffi’s brutal crackdown on the protests has earned him international condemnation.

Ivory Coast is wracked by violence sparked by the refusal of the country’s incumbent president to step down after having lost an election to his political opponent.

Al Ittihad and Jeunesse Club Abidjan were due to face each other this weekend but must now agree on a neutral venue for a one-off match to be played between April 1 and 3, CAF said in a statement.

CAF is likely to also decide that an African Nations Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Benin scheduled for next weekend in Abidjan should be played on neutral territory. CAF has already delayed Libya’s qualifier against the Comoros Islands that was supposed to be played in Libya next weekend.

Earlier, CAF moved the eight-nation African Youth Championships that was supposed to kick off in Libya on Friday to South Africa. The tournament, which will decide which four African countries go to the under-20 World Cup in Colombia this year, was rescheduled for April 16.

James M. Dorsey is a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog

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