South Africa takes legal route after soccer team relegation

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 10, 2011
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The South African Football Association (SAFA) Sunday lodged an appeal with the continental soccer governing body, Confederation of African Football (CAF) regarding the outcome of qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament to be held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

South Africa finished top of Group G on goal difference, followed by Sierra Leone and Niger - all tied on nine points, with Egypt in fourth place four points adrift. But according to CAF rules, Bafana Bafana misses out while Niger proceeds to the finals next year.

"We have noted that CAF has announced that Niger has qualified in our group, despite South Africa finishing on top of the group in terms of goal difference, which is the universally recognised means of separating teams who are equal on points," reads part a letter addressed to CAF.

Playing from backyard, South Africa played to a goalless draw against Sierra Leone at the Mbombela Stadium, while Egypt defeated Niger by three goals to nil (3-0).

"We understand that you are using rule 14.1 to make your determination. However, we believe that the team finishing top of the log at the end of the competition is automatically determined at the end of 90 minutes play, and that the second place is determined by the other rules," SAFA states.

"We will lay out our objection more fully shortly, but in the meantime wish to signal that we intend to challenge this interpretation and application of the rules," says the letter.

SAFA has taken legal opinion on the matter, and has found precedent where competition rules that are patently unfair have been overturned on appeal.

"Do not despair, all is not lost. We believe we have a case and we will carry this fight all the way. If CAF' s rules are ambiguous then we need to challenge that and we are well within our rights to do so. In the meantime be positive, and leave everything in our hands," SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani said.

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