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FIFA Can't Shake Off Qatar Controversy

  • Reuters, Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1:30 PM
FIFA is still in a mess for another poorly judged decision after the governing body absolved Qatar of any blame for fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifying game against Iraq. Qatar fielded a naturalized Brazilian named Emerson in the 2-0 win over Iraq in March, a result that eliminated Iraq from qualification and allowed Qatar to progress to the next round.

Emerson, it turned out, had played for Brazil at youth level, and had been arrested by Brazilian police in 2006 for falsifying his age in his passport. He has since been banned by FIFA. But FIFA has also said that Qatar was given false information about the player's eligibility, and cleared the country's soccer authorities of any blame.

In doing so, FIFA flouted it own rules. Article 55 (FIFA Disciplinary Code) of FIFA's competition rules states that any team "found guilty of fielding an ineligible player shall forfeit the match in question" and "victory and the resultant 3 points will be awarded to the opposing team." The Iraqi Football Association has brought the case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the same body that ruled against FIFA in the Olympic player eligibility case.

"The handling of the case has incensed many Iraqis," writes Martin Petty, "and prompted hundreds of web postings accusing oil-rich Qatar of abusing the power it has in Asian soccer, in particular, the close ties shared by the Asian Football Confederation's Qatari president Mohamed Bin Hammam and his FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter."

Read the whole story at Reuters »

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