Just imagine your nation is comfortably leading the group for World Cup qualifiers and just two matches away from playing at the World Cup, all of a sudden, they are deducted points for fielding an ineligible player and that puts them in a tight situation (Back to Mathematics). This is exactly the situation many Africa Nations led by CECAFA representatives Ethiopia are going through at the moment. Some things are hard to believe but in this age and era of technology, a national team is able to field a suspended or ineligible player in a match as important as a World Cup Qualifier.
Interestingly, even the FA members of those respective nations come out to confess that they mistakenly did so but still remain in their positions. It only happens in Africa otherwise, such a person would have resigned by now in other parts of the World.
Ethiopia fielded midfielder Manyahile Beyene against Botswana instead of serving a one-match ban having been cautioned in games away to South Africa and at home against to Central African Republic (CAR).
“We accept the allegation, it is a mistake by our side, shocking news to us,” Ethiopia FA President Gebremariam said. “We’re not going to appeal, it’s a management blunder,” he added. “We have accepted the FIFA discipline issue.”
The Walia Antelopes had qualified for the Africa Zone play offs after their 2-1 win over Bafana Bafana on June 6 put them on 13 unassailable points but with FIFA likely to dock them three points, second placed South Africa with 8 points and third placed Botswana likely to gain three points and goals from that game return to contention for a place at the World’s biggest soccer tournament.
The standard punishment for a team guilty of using an ineligible player is that their opponents are awarded a 3-0 victory, with Sudan, Burkina Faso and Gabon already punished during the 2014 qualifying competition.
Sudan played suspended Eldin Adris, Burkina Faso used Cameroon-born Herve Zengue, and Gabon picked Charly Moussono, who represented Cameroon at the 2006 Beach Soccer World Cup.
Like Ethiopia, Togo is also in a tight situation after fielding suspended Alaixys Romao in the 2-0 win over Cameroon and their FA member Toussa Komi admitted.
“It’s true that the Togolese team didn’t find out if the player was qualified (to play) before using him,” said Komi. He also said they would not contest any FIFA charge, which is almost certainly going to be the loss of three points.
If Togo’s points are redistributed to Cameroon, it will hand the Indomitable Lions a massive World Cup lifeline. Cameroon currently trail Group I leaders Libya by two points, but would move a point clear in the table with one game remaining.
Burkina Faso and Gabon lost points for fielding Cameroon-born players who were ineligible to play for their national teams, while Sudan lost three points for using a suspended player.
Meanwhile, FIFA’s disciplinary committee has opened another case against Equatorial Guinea for fielding an ineligible player in a second World Cup qualifier. Equatorial Guinea are already appealing against a ruling from FIFA over the use of the unnamed player in a 4-3 win at home to Cape Verde on March 24.
It now appears the same player also appeared in the away match on June 8, which Cape Verde won 2-1. However, only the result of the appeal can change the standings in Group B.
If Equatorial Guinea lose their appeal, it would hand three points to Cape Verde, who would then be just two points behind group leaders Tunisia.
The Carthage Eagles drew 1-1 in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday to seemingly book their place in the playoffs, but a technical victory for Cape Verde would change things.
Tunisia host Cape Verde on the final day of the current qualifying stage.
The outcome of the second case would have less of an impact on the group as Equatorial Guinea lost the match and so Cape Verde would not gain any further points.
The Equatorial Guinea FA has been invited to outline its position to FIFA, along with any documentary evidence it might deem appropriate.
Nevertheless, it is not clear whether the eligibility issues in these cases relate to the nationality of the player or if he should have.
The number of cases is alarming in this qualifying campaign for the Africa Zone. At the end of the campaign, some of the nations involved in the cases will lose an opportunity to play at Brazil 2014 not on the pitch but in the boardroom.
Shame upon Sudan, Togo, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon Football Associations!!!