The Rwandan National Team is appealing a decision by the CAF to disqualify the country based on the identity of a player they used in the team’s qualifying matches against Libya and Republic of Congo.
The decision temporarily means the Republic of Congo will take Rwanda’s place in the group stage, pending the appeal.
Rwandan striker Dady Birori was deemed to have an alternate identity – Tady Etekiama (or Etekiama Agiti Tady) – under a Congolese passport and stating a different date of birth, used for play with his club team AS Vita of the Republic of Congo.
“[We] established that the two identities only referred to a single person,” said the CAF in a release.
The player in question scored a hat-trick in Rwanda’s first-round victory over Libya as Rwanda went through 3-0 on aggregate. He played but did not score in leg one of their second round match against Congo, which Rwanda lost 2-0. They won the second leg 2-0 and won the matchup on a penalty shootout. He did not feature in the second leg.
According to the BBC, Rwanda claims they were not aware of his multiple identities, but investigators have countered with the recall summons the player received from the national team, which uses his club identity.
Biori has been suspended indefinitely, and the CAF says they will make a decision on how long his ban will be next month. They said they reserve the right to “impose additional sanctions if necessary.”
The 2015 African Cup of Nations will be held in Morocco and will take place in January and February. Players often leave their club teams during this time to join in the tournament.