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May, 8, 2010

Togo ANC ban lifted after Blatter intervention

Togo will be allowed to compete in the 2012 and 2014 African Nations Cup tournaments after FIFA president Sepp Blatter helped convince the CAF to remove the ban imposed because the nation pulled out of the Angola 2010 edition.

Togo's government withdrew the national team from January's continental tournament after two team officials and a driver were killed in a terrorist attack on the team bus as it travelled to a fixture, prompting CAF to hand out a two-tournament ban and a $50,000 fine for allowing political issues to interfere with football.

CAF president Issa Hayatou has agreed to ask his executive committee to vote next week to readmit Togo to the next two editions of the ANC, to be held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012 and Libya in 2014 after Togo's appeal was heard in the court of arbitration for sport, who invited Blatter to mediate.

As part of the outcome, Togo officials agreed they did not follow correct procedure in pulling out of the competition, but ultimately logic has prevailed in light of the tragic motive for Togo's decision to withdraw.

Blatter said in a CAS statement: "I am very pleased that we have been able to find a solution which is satisfactory for both parties. The success today is for the entire football community, in particular for African football."

Elitsa Lanou, Togo's technical director, said in a statement: "This decision is good news for us. It gives us a real bounce. If the sanction had been upheld, we would have been knocked flat. Now we have to organise and move on."

The qualifying draw for the 2012 tournament was made in February without Togo, but it will now be redone ahead of the first matches set to take place in September.

Togo's best known player and captain Emmanuel Adebayor retired from international football in the wake of the ban, although it's uncertain whether the reversal of that decision could lure him back into the fold.

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