CAF says Namibia appeal rejected by CAS

AP, Tuesday 10 Jan 2012

Burkina Faso kept its place at the African Cup of Nations after sport’s highest court dismissed an appeal by Namibia over an ineligible player on Tuesday


The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport said it confirmed the Confederation of African Football’s decision in November to reject Namibia’s appeal over the eligibility of Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue.

Namibia wanted to replace Burkina Faso at the Jan. 21-Feb. 12 Cup of Nations after losing out to the Burkinabes in qualifying last year, arguing Zengue was not eligible to play for his adopted country.

The Namibia Football Association had twice protested to CAF over Zengue’s presence in Burkina Faso’s team.

After Africa’s ruling body rejected both of those appeals, Namibia’s FA was hopeful that CAS would find in its favor. It said it was “dismayed” at the latest ruling.

“We are disappointed and we don’t know how they (CAS) have reached this decision to dismiss our case but we will accept the decision and move on and plan forward,” said NFA secretary general Barry Rukoro, who attended Friday’s CAS hearing in Lausanne.

Namibia said Zengue, who was married to a woman from Burkina Faso, still did not meet FIFA criteria to play for his adopted country.

But in its finding, CAS said Zengue moved to Burkina Faso in 1994, was issued with a nationality certificate in 2006 and received a Burkinabe passport on March 25, 2011—a day before he played in the first of two qualifying victories over Namibia.

Burkina Faso was free to focus on its preparations for the 16-team African Cup, which was less than two weeks away. It left out Zengue from its initial training squad but can recall the Terek Grozny defender to a final 23-man squad, which needs to be named by Wednesday.

Burkina Faso was in Group B at the tournament alongside favorite Ivory Coast, Angola and Sudan.

CAF said in its statement that Tuesday’s decision also ordered the Namibia FA to pay 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,275) toward its legal fees plus other costs for the CAS hearing.

Namibia FA president John Muinjo expressed his frustration at the decision, which he felt was unfair.

“We must stop playing football if we can’t abide by its rules,” Muinjo said.

On the legal costs, Muinjo added: “This is an eventuality that we did not budget for but … as a law-abiding nation, we will have to pay.”

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