27 February 2012, Monday /REUTERS
Clubs from Yemen and Syria have been ordered to play home matches in the AFC Cup at neutral venues due to political unrest in the two countries.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday the decision would affect Syrian clubs Al Ittihad and Al Shorta as well as Yemeni clubs Al Orouba and Al Tilal. The AFC wrote to the football associations of Syria and Yemen citing FIFA’s assessment of the security situation in both countries, the AFC’s official website (www.the-afc.com) said. Football’s world governing body has recommended no official matches should be played in the countries for the time being. Syria resembles a warzone, the outside world powerless to halt the carnage in a country where repression of initially peaceful protests has spawned an armed insurrection. Al-Qaeda has expanded its foothold in southern Yemen, the militant network claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing which killed at least 26 people at the weekend. Earlier this month, Al Tilal needed little prompting to play an AFC Cup playoff in the honeymoon resort islands of the Maldives.