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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 4, 2008

Qatar still nervous about FIFA ruling

BANGKOK, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Qatar begin their final push towards a possible first appearance at the World Cup finals on Saturday in a match overshadowed by an impending court verdict that could see them kicked out of the competition. Qatar fielded an ineligible player in the 2-0 defeat of Iraq in March, prompting world governing body FIFA to suspend the player but clear Qatar of any wrongdoing, despite rules stating the team is culpable in such an instance. FIFA have twice refused to change the result, however, on the grounds that Iraq had delayed submission of documents by not paying the appeal fees. In June FIFA released a brief statement saying its disciplinary committee had 'examined the case and determined that the Qatar Football Association was not responsible'. The tiny Gulf State qualified for the final round at the expense of Iraq, who have appealed the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. A decision is expected on Sept 10, the day Qatar play Bahrain in their second match of the round. The man at the centre of the controversy is Brazilian-born Emerson, formerly known as Marcio Passos De Albuquerque, who represented Brazil at youth level and was therefore ineligible, despite his Qatari citizenship. Emerson, who has played in four continents, had a previous brush with authorities when he was detained by Brazilian police in 2006 for falsifying his age on his birth certificate. FIFA's competition rules state that any team 'found guilty of fielding an ineligible player shall forfeit the match in question' adding that 'victory and the resultant 3 points will be awarded to the opposing team'. Emerson played for Qatar in their victory over Iraq, a defeat which effectively buried the war-torn country's hopes of reaching their first World Cup in 24 years. Sources close to the case told Reuters that Qatar's argument for remaining in the competition centres on their confusion about Emerson's identity and the official player registration process. Qatar maintain that internet searches and background checks with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) failed to display Emerson's records. The Qatar FA was unavailable for comment when contacted by Reuters. However, a source familiar with the case said the CBF had full records of Emerson playing under his former name. Lawyers representing Iraq claim officials from Qatari champions Al Sadd, Emerson's club, visited Brazil in 2006 after he was detained by police and were therefore fully aware of his identity and playing history. The possible outcomes are that the CAS send the case back to FIFA, order a replay of the March 26 match, or rule that Qatar forfeit the game and give their place in the last round to Iraq. 'The result of that match should be nullified and Iraq awarded victory,' Iraqi soccer president Hussein Saeed told Reuters on Thursday. 'The player was illegal. We hope the court will be fair and recognise that.' Qatar host Uzbekistan on Saturday in the first group game of the final round of the Asian qualifying campaign.

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