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CAF disqualifies Equatorial Guinea from 2018 Women's AFCON

Equatorial Guinea look dejected after the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Group D match between Equatorial Guinea and Brazil at FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 6, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria

CAIRO, October 17, 2018 - Equatorial Guinea have been disqualified from the 11th edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and also fined for fielding an ineligible player in the first leg of their final round qualification tie against Kenya at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos in June.

This follows the decision of the CAF Disciplinary Board to uphold Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) protest at its hearing at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

Facts The CAF Disciplinary Board established the fact that Kenya submitted an official protest against Equatorial Guinea on June 9, 2018 prior to both sides going head to head again in the second leg of their qualification tie.

The Disciplinary Board further stated that: “In their initial letter, Kenya was protesting the eligibility of 6 players, however, they only maintained their protest regarding one player: Anette Jacky MESSOMO. The player in question was allegedly of Cameroonian nationality and had played for several European based clubs.

“By a letter dated 30 August 2018, the Cameroonian federation confirmed the above by stating that the player in question is indeed of Cameroonian nationality and that they deny ever receiving a request from Equatorial Guinea in order for Mrs. Anette Jacky MESSOMO to change her national association.”

“Considering CAF Statutes; CAF Regulations, in particular the Regulations of the Women AFCON 2018; and the CAF Disciplinary Code, the Disciplinary Board decides that Kenya’s protest is upheld; A sanction of 10, 0000 USD (Ten Thousand Dollars) is imposed on the Equatorial Guinea FA; and Equatorial Guinea’s Team is disqualified from the TOTAL African Women’s Cup of Nations 2018.”

The player In registering their complaint, the Kenyan football body had explained to CAF that Messomo had not met the FIFA naturalisation requirements for players who wish to assume the nationality of a country to which they have no clear family connection.

Messomo “is a Cameroonian player who does not meet the requirements to feature for Equatorial Guinea national team as the player has never played for any club within Equatorial Guinea (has not stayed in the country for at least five years) neither was she nor her parents/grandparents born in Equatorial Guinea,” FKF wrote in their protest letter to CAF.

When the Equatorial Guinea FA were asked to respond to the allegations levelled against them, they claimed that Messomo had benefited from her grandfather’s nationality, adding that she has been living in the country since her childhood. They, however, could not provide sufficient evidence to back up their claims.

Flashback It is for this same reason of fielding an ineligible player that CAF disqualified Equatorial Guinea from the 2016 edition of the Women’s AFCON which held in Cameroon, and also banned them from the 2018 and 2020 editions.

The two-time continental champions had fielded Brazilian-born midfielder Camila Nobre do Carmo Oliviera, whose date of birth is 10/06/1988, in their two-legged, last round qualification tie against Mali. But Mali found out that the same player was registered as Camila Maria Nobre Carmo with date of birth as 07/10/1994 at the 2014 edition in Namibia, and submitted a protest to CAF.

Reinstatement Equatorial Guinea were, however, reinstated in July last year by CAF. This is why they participated in the qualification series of Ghana 2018.

Beyond Africa In 2011, FIFA banned Equatorial Guinea from the Women's Olympic Football qualifying. The Nzalang Nacional were supposed to play against the Super Falcons of Nigeria in the final round of qualifying for a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games after beating Cameroon 2-0 in the second round, but Jade Boho Sayo’s nationality was called into question.

Then in 2016, due to the “use of forged or falsified documents” with regards to Camila’s case, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee ruled that Equatorial Guinea will not compete for a place at the 2020 Women's Olympic Football Tournament.

Further investigations were conducted afterwards, and in October 2017 FIFA sanctioned Equatorial Guinea yet again “for fielding ineligible players during the preliminary competition of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 (art. 55 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, “FDC”) and for the use of forged and falsified documents by two of its players (art. 61 par. 4 of the FDC)”.

Kenya The Harambee Starlets of Kenya will be making their second Women’s AFCON appearance in Ghana. The first time they graced the stage was in 2016, in Cameroon. The draw for this year’s Women’s AFCON has been scheduled for October 21 in Accra, Ghana. The tournament will take place from November 17 - December 1.

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