Egypt, Libya qualifiers to be played without fans
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — World Cup qualifiers involving Egypt and Libya next month will be played without fans, FIFA said on Wednesday, while security arrangements for matches in Mali, Nigeria and Kenya were being scrutinized.
Egypt-Mozambique in Alexandria on June 1 and Libya-Cameroon in Sfax, Tunisia on June 10 will be behind closed doors, the world football body told The Associated Press in a written reply to questions. FIFA said the decision was taken by local authorities and football federations in those countries.
Mali's game against Algeria could be moved out of the West African country after the president was toppled in a coup.
The ruling body also was reviewing security plans for Nigeria's home game against Namibia in the southeastern city of Calabar, which it said were "comprehensive and very thorough."
The match was to be played in Kaduna, in the center of Nigeria, before bomb attacks there by a radical Islamic sect.
FIFA and the Confederation of African Football hadn't yet decided if Mali-Algeria would go ahead in Mali after recent violence in the capital Bamako following the coup in March and fighting involving countercoup forces this month.
Two foreign clubs, Sunshine Stars of Nigeria and Al-Ahly of Egypt, were stranded in Bamako two weeks ago during fighting after playing African Champions League games.
FIFA said it had been monitoring the situation in Mali since March. Algeria last week requested the tie be moved to a neutral venue because of the instability.
"A final decision following further discussions between FIFA and CAF is likely to be made in the next few days," FIFA said on the venue.
Egypt's interior ministry decided this month that the national team could open its World Cup qualifying campaign on home soil after a riot at a club game in February left 74 people dead and ended all domestic football in the troubled country for the season. The violence at a stadium in the Mediterranean city of Port Said also dragged football into ongoing political violence.
Egypt hasn't hosted an international since October, and despite initial pleas from Egyptian football authorities for fans to be allowed back, the government and Egyptian Football Association had agreed that the match be closed to supporters, FIFA said.
Tunisia hasn't allowed fans at most games since the Arab Spring uprising there early last year and would again close off the Libya-Cameroon game. Libya hasn't been able to play in its home country since the start of the civil war that ended Moammar Gadhafi's rule.
FIFA had also asked for security plans from Kenya before its qualifying competition, but added it was "not unusual."
Kenya hosts Malawi on June 2 in Nairobi, which has seen hit-and-run grenade attacks in the last few months that were blamed on Somali militant group al-Shabab.