The Ghana Football Association has written a letter to FIFA requesting next month’s World Cup play-off against Egypt be played at a neutral venue.
The second leg of the play-off, to be played on November 19th, is currently set to be played in Cairo after the Egyptian Football Association granted Bob Bradley’s request to play in the nation’s capital and in front of fans.
Arguing it is too dangerous to play the game in Cairo, Ghana is now requesting FIFA force Egypt to play the match at a “safe and secure” venue. “Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt,” Ghana officials wrote.
With last week’s riots in Cairo resulting in the deaths of 51 people, the GFA claimed some of its players expressed “grave concern over their safety for the match.”
“Much as we sympathize with our brothers at the Egyptian Football Association, we are highly concerned about the security and safety of our players, officials and supporters and would like Fifa to take the necessary steps to protect lives and from both Ghana and Egypt during the second-leg game,” the letter stated.
The GFA’s letter also notes that for the past two years Egyptian authorities have barred spectators from football matches, including World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guinea.
The request, while not by any means surprising or unreasonable, will serve to frustrate Bradley.
After overcoming incredible odds both on and off the pitch to win all six of their group stage games in the qualifying process (the only team in the world to go unbeaten during such a stretch), the Egyptians were dealt a difficult blow when they drew the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists for the play-offs.
Through the entire qualifying process thus far, political uproar and violence has forced Egypt to play its matches outside of the capital city, in places like Alexandria and the seaside resort of El Gouna. The decision to award Egypt a match in Cairo with fans in the stadium was a major coup for Bradley, whose squad faces a tricky first leg match up in Kumasi on October 15th.