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.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

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Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE