Cameroon soccer suspended by FIFA for “government interference”

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In the wake of a scandal involving the arrest of the Cameroon FA (FECAFOOT) president and his subsequent reelection from prison, FIFA has suspended the country’s association.

Iya Mohammed was reelected as FECAFOOT president two weeks ago despite being in custody during the investigation of $19 million embezzlement claims involving Sodecoton, the state-owned company charged with overseeing the country’s cotton production.  Mohammed has been in charge of FECAFOOT since 1998.

The country’s sports minister Adoum Garoua had originally suspended the FECAFOOT presidential election back in April before FIFA intervened, threatening suspension.

FIFA will now set up its own committee to oversee the soccer governing body within the country temporarily.  The committee will be created in order to “revise the FECAFOOT statutes and to organise elections for new office bearers by 31 March 2014, at the same time as managing the daily business.”

The suspension means Cameroon are not allowed to participate in any regional, continental, or international matches, including at the club, youth, or friendly levels.  Basically, they can’t play any matches – club, international, youth, or otherwise.

FIFA says the suspension will be lifted “once the country authorities allow the new normalization committee to enter the FECAFOOT headquarters and to carry out its activities unhindered.”

Without a swift response by FECAFOOT to allow FIFA to carry out its normalizatioin process, Cameroon’s chances at reaching the World Cup could be seriously hindered.  Cameroon currently sit in 1st place in Group I of the African qualification tables, one point ahead of Libya and four points ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just one group match remains, and only the group winners advance to the knockout stage.  Cameroon are scheduled to play Libya in their final group match on the sixth of September, but if the suspension isn’t lifted by then they most likely will be forced to forfeit and would lose their knockout stage position.

The Cameroonians did receive a boost thanks to another FIFA decision today.  Having lost to Togo 2-0 at home back in the beginning of June, Cameroon were given the default 3-0 win by FIFA thanks to Togo having fielded an ineligible player.

Togo fielded Marseille midfielder Alexys Romao despite having been suspended for yellow card accumulation.  Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon and Sudan have all also received default losses during this qualification round for having made administrative errors.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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