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Jul 4, 2013

FIFA suspends Cameroon

ZURICH -- FIFA has suspended Cameroon after the re-election last month of its soccer federation president, who was arrested for alleged financial crimes in his business career.

FIFA also penalized Togo for fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier, a decision which severely damages Libya's hopes of reaching the tournament in Brazil.

FIFA said it overturned Togo's 2-0 home win against Cameroon on June 9, and awarded the visitors a 3-0 default victory.

The Cameroon suspension could prevent Cameroon from playing a key World Cup qualifier Sept. 6 against Libya. It also could affect the club team Coton Sports when it resumes its African Champions League season July 20.

FIFA's emergency committee imposed the suspension Thursday because of government interference in the federation, known as Fecafoot.

"The FIFA statutes oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties," the world governing body said in a statement.

Typically when governments seek to exert influence, FIFA threatens or imposes suspensions as a short-term measure to protect elected football officials.

While suspended, a country's teams and officials cannot take part in international matches and meetings, nor receive FIFA funds.

The Cameroonian president of African soccer, Issa Hayatou, did not take part in the vote, FIFA said. The ruling body said it will create an emergency panel to run the Cameroon federation and hold elections by March 31.

"The suspension will be lifted once the country's authorities allow the new normalization committee to enter the Fecafoot headquarters and to carry out its activities unhindered," FIFA said.

Longstanding federation leader Mohammed Iya is being investigated for alleged mismanagement while in charge of the state-owned cotton company.

Iya was arrested at a Yaounde hotel on June 10 after being implicated in mismanagement and embezzlement while he was managing director at the Cotton Development Corporation, which state auditors say resulted in it losing about $19 million from 2005 to 2010.

Iya has led Fecafoot since 1998 but has come under pressure after the former World Cup quarterfinalist failed to qualify for the past two African Cup of Nations.

Cameroon leads its 2014 World Cup qualifying group by one point from Libya by virtue of a FIFA disciplinary decision also announced Thursday.

FIFA awarded Cameroon a 3-0 victory by default over Togo, whose 2-0 victory in a June 9 qualifier was overturned because it fielded an ineligible player. Cameroon and Libya are scheduled to play on Sept. 6 to decide which team advances to a final playoff round.

Cameroon now rises above Libya in the standings and leads by one point with one match remaining.

Cameroon hosts Libya on Sept. 6 needing just a draw to advance to the final playoff round.

FIFA says Togo played Alexys Romao, a midfielder with Marseille, who should have served a one-match suspension for accumulating yellow cards.

Togo joins Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon and Sudan among African teams losing matches by default for administrative errors in the current World Cup qualifying phase.

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