Johannesburg - Cameroon club Coton Sport won't be allowed to play in the African
Champions League this weekend because the country's football federation
is still suspended for government interference, FIFA said on Monday.
Sport's ineligibility adds to the complications surrounding Africa's
top club competition with Egyptian rivals Zamalek and Al Ahly, the
defending champion, without a venue for their meeting because of the
political turmoil and threat of violence in their country.
eight-team group stage, which will ultimately decide Africa's Champions
League semifinalists, is due to have its first round of games on
Saturday and Sunday.
FIFA said that it was in contact with various
parties in Cameroon but conditions had not yet been met for the
suspension to be lifted after the country was banned on July 4. For
Cameroon's clubs and national team to be allowed to compete
internationally again, a temporary "normalization committee" needs to be
formed and take over the running of the federation, FIFA ruled.
confirm as well that as the Cameroonian FA is suspended the (Coton
Sport) game can't take place," the world body said on Monday.
suspension followed a contested June 19 election in which Mohammed Iya
was re-elected as head of the federation despite being under arrest and
facing a possible trial for alleged financial mismanagement while in
charge of the Cameroon Cotton Development Corporation — ironically the
company that finances the Coton Sport club.
Coton Sport will not
be able to play against Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport on Saturday, FIFA said,
and might not be able to take part as one of the last eight teams in
the Champions League altogether despite Antoine Depadoue Eyenga Essomba,
a vice president of the Cameroon federation, saying that the ban was a
"blunder" by FIFA and that the federation would challenge it at the
Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Africa's ruling body, the
Confederation of African Football, has not yet made public any decision
over Coton Sport's participation despite there being just five days to
go until the first round of group matches.
CAF also hasn't ruled
on the venue for the Zamalek-Al Ahly game on Sunday, although the
Egyptian federation has proposed that it take place in the Red Sea
resort of El Gouna after authorities couldn't guarantee security in
Cairo or the Mediterranean city of Alexandria because of spiraling
violence in Egypt.
Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in
Cairo, Alexandria and other cities last week to protest the removal of
Mohammed Morsi as president, and prolonged unrest in Egypt has caused
major disruption to domestic football.
African football has
suffered from a catalog of problems this year, including countries being
forced to forfeit matches in World Cup qualifying for fielding
Cameroon's ban and the violence in Egypt also
could affect the World Cup qualifiers, which will return for a final
round of group games in September ahead of the decisive 10-team playoffs
at the end of the year for Africa's five places at Brazil 2014.