By Sulayman Bah
The Confederation of African Football is working on finding a solution to
what becomes a venue saga following Mali’s refusal to be used as a
neutral venue for Barrack Young Controllers and Real de Banjul’s
second-leg over fears of Ebola spread.The Liberian Football Association had earlier written to their
counterparts in Bamako proposing for Barrack Young Controllers to play
its preliminary round second-leg against Real de Banjul there, a
request the Malian leadership without hesitation, turned down.
News of the cancelation of the second-leg comes after Real
attempted to fly out and has since voiced its regret over the issue.
With Ebola still present in Liberia while the cure for this deadly
disease is still not found, neighbouring African countries are
understandably apprehensive of playing host to a team from an
The situation leaves the Liberian champions in dilemma, with Mali
being the third nation to reject their request in the space of a month
after Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Under Caf rules, Barrack Young Controllers could have been found
wanting and sanctioned for failure to locate a neutral venue in time
–after being suspended from playing at home.
The onus now lies on CAF’s inter-club Organising Committee (OC) who
are to find an amicable solution.
The OC is sitting over the matter and is expected to resolve the issue
at least before Friday.
A fine or suspension would have been slammed on BYC as the most
appropriate measure as per football laws for failure to secure a
neutral venue for the return leg; but on account that they are banned
from hosting matches at home and their requests to play away shunned,
the continental football governing body cannot be anything but
Caf laws in respect of the current situation.
XIII. COUNTRY AT WAR / SITUATION AFFECTING THE SAFETY OF A COUNTRY
2.1If the case concerns only one country, the federation will play its
home match on a ground in another country or a single game will be
played on the opponent’s ground.
Where appropriate, the Organizing Committee will determine the match venue.
2.2 If this case involves two countries, the match will be played on
3 In the group matches:
3.1 If the case concerns only one country, the federation will play
its home match in another country. Where appropriate, the Organizing
Committee will determine the match venue.
3.2 If this case involves two countries, the match will be played on
XIV. Matches and neutral venues
1. The matches of the Champions League can be played on neutral
grounds, upon agreement by the two associations concerned or by
decision of CAF Organising Committee.
2.Excluding the group matches, and in case of agreement or decision
under these circumstances, only one match shall be played on a neutral
ground with eventual extra time and if necessary penalty kicks
Morocco or Gambia?
Liberia FA had once considered facilitating for BYC to play both the
first and return fixtures in Gambia, and, at one point the proposal
was been evaluated by the Gambian football federation. But nothing
concrete came of the issue. It however still remains a practical
possibility cost-wise as well for the Liberian club.
The first-leg ended one apiece but whether BYC would risk playing
their home fixture in Gambia in front of Real de Banjul supporters
remains all together another matter.
Morocco who didn’t make a fuss about allowing BYC to transit through
Rabat to the Gambia is another possible alternative venue but then
again, giving it’s government fractured tie with CAF’s who recently
suspended the North African country for refusing to go ahead and host
the 2015 Afcon over ebola fears makes it a strange case.
By Sulayman Bah