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Ebola fears wreak havoc with African soccer tournament

Ivory Coast will not host scheduled African Nations Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone due to Ebola fears
Ebola outbreak is causing some African national squads to find new venues for upcoming matches

The Ivory Coast will not be allowed to host its African Nations Cup qualifier next week against Sierra Leone because of fears over the Ebola virus, the country's football federation said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported that the Ivory Coast government has told the football federation it will not allow the match to take place because all travel between the two countries has been banned.

"The authorities are taking no chances against a possible Ebola outbreak," media officer Eric Kacou told reporters, according to Reuters.

Ivory Coast’s action comes in the wake of demands from Congo that its scheduled qualifier in Nigeria next weekend be moved to a neutral venue because it is reluctant to travel to a country where there have also been deaths from the deadly virus.

Nigeria and Sierra Leone are among the countries affected by the virus, which has killed at least 1,427 people.

Sierra Leone and Guinea -- where 300 deaths have been blamed on Ebola -- have been ordered by the Confederation of African Football to move their home qualifiers to neutral venues. But Ivory Coast is the first government that has told its own team it cannot play at home.

Ivory Coast is scheduled to host Sierra Leone on Sept. 6 in a Group D qualifier but must now scramble to find a new venue, according to Reuters. Sierra Leone has similar problems as it looks for a country willing to allow it to host its second group game against Congo on Sept. 10.

Guinea moved its Group E opener against Togo on Sept. 6 to Casablanca in Morocco.

Nigeria, where there have been five reported deaths attributed to the Ebola virus, is still planning to play its opening Group A match against Congo at home on Sept. 6 but the Congo Football Federation has written to CAF to ask for it to be moved to a neutral venue.

Nations Cup qualifiers start on Sept. 5-6 with a second round of games on Sept. 10 as the group phase of the preliminaries for the finals in Morocco next year gets underway

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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