Ghana ask FIFA to move World Cup playoff away from Egypt

REUTERS - Ghana have asked FIFA to move the venue of their World Cup qualifying playoff second leg next month away from Egypt because of "grave" safety concerns.

"Following recent political unrest in the North African country which has claimed innocent lives, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has asked FIFA to take a look at the security situation of that country and re-evaluate the decision to host the game in Cairo," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

In a letter sent to soccer's ruling body on Monday the GFA expressed concern at "the deteriorating security situation in Egypt" and asked that the second leg of the playoff on November 19 be switched "to a safe and secure venue".

"(We are) gravely concerned that for the past two years Egyptian authorities have only allowed football matches to be played without spectators yet Ghana has reportedly been asked to play in Cairo before fans," the letter said.

Egypt have, on occasion, allowed restricted crowds to watch national team games and African club competition matches since heavy restrictions were imposed after 74 people died in last year's Port Said stadium disaster.

"We are seriously concerned about the security and safety of our delegation and spectators ... as events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly," the letter said.

Since the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July, the only football in Egypt has involved the national team and two clubs - Al Ahli and Zamalek - in the group phase of the African Champions League.

However, all home games have been hosted in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna because authorities banned matches from major centres.

The restriction has been lifted for the playoff against Ghana in a compromise by the military government that reflects the desire in Egypt to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Ghana host the first leg of the playoff in Kumasi next Tuesday. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Tony Jimenez; Reuters messaging mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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