FIFA has cast huge doubt over Cairo as the venue for the second-leg of the 2014 World Cup playoff clash between Egypt and Ghana by issuing a 28th October deadline for a security plan to guarantee the safety Ghana and FIFA match officials for the game.
The world governing body says it would consider switching the venue for the 19 November match scheduled for Cairo if it is not satisfied with security plans by the Egyptian government.
In a strongly-worded letter to the Egyptian FA, the global body ordered the Egyptian FA to look for alternative venues for the match as the security situation in the country escalates.
FIFA said while it is monitoring the security situation in Cairo and other hotspots in the country, the Egyptian authorities must provide a comprehensive security plan of guaranteeing the safety of the Ghana delegation and FIFA match officials.
The strong response from FIFA follows a protest the Ghana FA this week over the safety and security of the Black Stars for the proposed venue for the second leg of the final qualifier as violence in Egypt escalates.
Egypt had proposed to host the second-leg match in Cairo scheduled for 19 November before fans even though they played all their group World Cup qualifiers behind closed doors when the violence in Egypt was minimal.
Now that the violence is at its all-time high in Egypt, the country’s FA wants to host the World Cup return qualifier against Ghana in Cairo before fans which prompted the GFA to protest.
But FIFA says it need comprehensive security plans before it will decide whether the match will take place in Cairo or not.
“With regards to the recent security situation prevailing in Cairo and in some different spots in Egypt, and in order to ensure that all the parties concerned can organize their matches and play them in a totally safe and secure environment we would like to ask the Egyptian Football Association to coordinate with the national authorities by MONDAY 28th OCTOBER AT THE LATEST, the written security guarantees as well as the global security plan around this match in compliance with the FIFA Stadium, Safety and Security Regulations as of the arrival of the delegations (visiting team and FIFA Match Officials) up to their departure with all the necessary precisions regarding their stay and protection in Cairo,” FIFA wrote in a letter sent to the Egyptian Football Association and the Ghana Football Association on Friday.
“Although all our hopes and wishes sincerely expect that the security situation will go back to normal in a definite manner we would need to consider alternatives in the event that this were not the case in November.
“We will this keep monitoring the situation as possibly revert to you with additional request/enquiries in due course,” the letter signed by the FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke read.
The local league in Egypt has also been halted because of fears of violence erupting during matches as hundreds of protesters and security.
Meanwhile, the violence in Egypt goes on unabated after a suicide bomber rammed his car into an army checkpoint in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing four soldiers.
Another three soldiers were wounded in the attack on the Al-Reesa checkpoint just south of North Sinai’s main town of El-Arish, the officials said.
Attacks on the army and police have increased since the army’s July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and a subsequent crackdown on his supporters and members of his Muslim Brotherhood.
Militants have launched a series of brazen attacks this week, after at least 57 people were killed in clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters on Sunday, most of them in Cairo.
On Monday, three people were killed and around 50 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a security building in Al-Tur, the capital of South Sinai.
In the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, gunmen killed six soldiers in an attack on an army patrol.