Soccer-Ebola forces Sierra Leone to relinquish home advantage for qualifier

by Reuters
Monday, 1 September 2014 19:20 GMT

FREETOWN, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone have relinquished home advantage for next week's African Nations Cup qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo after failing to find a neutral venue following health fears over the Ebola virus.

Sierra Leone, one of the epicentres of the outbreak of the contagious virus which has killed more than 1,550 people, were scheduled to host the Group D match in Freetown on Sept. 10 but they were ordered last month by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to move the match out of the country.

Sierra Leone, which had already suspended all football activity in the country before the CAF ban, approached both Ghana and Morocco to host the qualifier but said they never received a response.

Their opponents the Congo will now host the game in Lubumbashi.

Sierra Leone players and staff will have to undergo screening for the virus when they enter the Congo, the country's soccer federation has been told.

Sierra Leone start the group phase of their campaign to reach next year's finals against the Ivory Coast on Saturday.

The venue for the match is still in doubt because the Ivorian government has told its own football federation it may not play the game in Abidjan because it has cut air links with Sierra Leone for fears of the virus spreading to its country. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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