Ebola-free Sierra Leone cleared to host football

The 18-month ban had forced the national team to play at neutral venues.

    Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November [AP]
    Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in November [AP]

    Sierra Leone has been cleared to host international football matches again after being declared free of the Ebola virus, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said.

    A ban stretching back 18 months has been lifted but comes too late for Sierra Leone's World Cup hopes after they were eliminated in the 2018 qualifiers in October.

    They will be able to resume their mission to qualify for the 2017 African Nations Cup finals in the capital Freetown, with a Group I qualifier against Gabon in March.

    Street celebrations as Sierra Leone declared Ebola-free

    "International football matches and CAF competitions can again be organised in the West African country, something which was not possible since August 2014 when CAF, upon the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, suspended football matches in countries affected by the epidemic Ebola virus," a statement from African football's governing body said.

    After being banned from playing at home, Sierra Leone initially ceded home advantage in both national team and club competition matches to their opponents after failing to find a neutral country prepared to help them host.

    They were eventually allowed by Nigeria to use the coastal city of Port Harcourt for home matches.

    Guinea is now the last country to remain banned from hosting international football matches because of the virus, but that could soon change as Guinea's last known patient recovered two weeks ago.

    Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free last month.

    The outbreak has killed 11,300 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, since it began two years ago. Liberia had its football ban lifted in September.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.