Eight African countries will be forced to play next month’s World Cup qualifiers away from home after their venues failed inspections by a team from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
A list of fixtures released by football’s world governing body, FIFA, for the opening two rounds of World Cup African group qualifiers confirmed the sanctions.
The countries in question are: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, and Niger.
The eight countries had previously been warned, as recently as May, to upgrade their facilities or face a ban from hosting international matches.
The neutral venues to which the games will be moved are Morocco (Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat), Mauritania (Nouakchott) and South Africa (Johannesburg).
This means there will be added cross-border travel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has previously resulted in several COVID-19-related disputes in continental and club football across the continent.
According to Guinea Bissau Football Federation president Carlos Mendes Teixeira, the countries banned from playing at home were given a chance to negotiate their own alternative venues.
CAF president Patrice Motsepe, who rose to office earlier this year, had made the improvement of the continent’s football infrastructure as one of his major priorities.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)