Ahead of next months World Cup qualifiers, the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has banned Mali and seven other African countries from hosting any matches over poor facilities across their stadia.
Other nations that must use a neutral ground for their home fixture between September 1-8, 2021 fixtures were Burkina Faso, Central African Republic (CAR), Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Namibia, and the Niger Republic.
The countries, whose stadia may not be permitted all through the qualifiers, were said to have failed tests conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on the venues proposed for their national team home matches.
FIFA, meanwhile, ratified CAF reports and omitted the countries’ stadia from sporting facilities approved to host the matches scheduled to determine Africa’s representatives for the tournament holding next year in Qatar.
Countries whose stadium facilities and or playing surfaces were considered not up to international standards were allowed to nominate alternate venues.
Burkina Faso, Niger (both Marrakech), Djibouti (Rabat), and Mali (Agadir) opted for Morocco and Malawi and Namibia (both Soweto) selected South Africa.
The Central African Republic (Douala) picked Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau (Nouakchott) decided on Mauritania. All the countries chose venues relatively close geographically except Djibouti as Djibouti City is about 5,600 kilometres (3,480 miles) southeast of Rabat if flying directly between the capital cities.
Mali boasted six international-standard stadiums, including two in Bamako, when they staged the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, but poor stadium maintenance, which had become African countries’ major problem.
Before the ban, CAF president, Patrice Motsepe, had during his inauguration warned offenders earlier in the year to rectify the situation or face the consequences.
All 40 teams bidding for five places at the 2022 finals in Qatar would have to play two fixtures, one home and one away, during the month of September, as well as October and November.
With only the 10 section winners advancing to the final elimination phase next March, the potential loss of home advantage for three matches could be crucial.