The Blue Sharks are out but could come back in

verdeplayerSo much for Cape Verde being so close to becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup football finals, in Brazil next year (see a previous post here). The sport’s world governing body, FIFA, has booted the island nation out of contention and given the opportunity to Tunisia instead. Apparently Cape Verde’s Fernando Varela (pictured right, in blue – the team’s nickname is Os Tubarões Azuis, or the Blue Sharks) was not eligible to play in the 2-0 win over Tunisia, and FIFA has overturned that result, stripped Cape Verde of the 3 points and awarded Tunisia a 3-0 victory instead.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened in the African qualifiers, and you have to wonder at the competence of the football officials involved. Ironically, earlier in the campaign Cabo Verde had benefited from a similar decision in March, having a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea turned into a victory in their favour when it was deemed that Equatorial Guinea had also used an ineligible player. That was the match in which Varela got sent off “for unsporting conduct towards a match official”, and thus earned the suspension in question. With so much at stake, these sort of silly administrative errors should not happen at the highest level. Varela, too, must take some of the blame for getting sent off int he first place. What a letdown for the fans (the Cape Verde ones, not the Tunisians).

However, you can be sure this won’t be the last development in the saga. Cape Verde have just announced they will appeal against the decision. According to this report, the argument is that because the match in which Varela got sent off was annulled, he didn’t have to serve out a four-game suspension after all. And according to the president of the Federação Cabo-Verdiana de Futebol (FCF), Mário Semedo, Varela was not on the FIFA list of players who were ineligible to play against Tunisia.

What a mess! Que confusão!

I have pasted below and done a rough translation of excerpts from a news report of FIFA’s ruling from Sapo.cv, but the full article is here. There is a BBC report in English here if you are interested. To sharpen your Portuguese, read the earlier euphoric report from a Cape Verde website Brava News of the match against Tunisia here, but so far the website has not posted news of the disqualification. Brava is one of the smallest of the islands in the group.

FIFA afasta Cabo Verde dos play-off

FIFA expel Cape Verde from play-off

Cabo Verde está fora dos play-off de acesso ao Mundial 2014. Os Tubarões Azuis foram punidos com derrota, na sequência do protesto apresentado pela Tunísia, alegando utilização irregular de um jogador por parte de Cabo Verde, na vitória dos crioulos sobre os magrebinos por 2-0. A FIFA deu razão à Tunísia que assim soma 14 pontos, ganha o grupo B e vai aos play-off.

Cape Verde are out of the play-off for a place at the 2014 World Cup. The Blue Sharks were punished with a defeat, following a protest by Tunisia alleging the use of an ineligible player by Cape Verde, in the Creoles’ 2-0 victory over the Maghrebs. FIFA ruled in favour of Tunisia, who thus go onto 14 points, win group B and go into the play-off ….

….Na base da decisão está a utilização irregular de Fernando Varela frente as Águias do Cartago que Cabo Verde venceu por 2-0.

The decision was based on the irregular use of Fernando Varela against the Eagles of Carthage, whom Cape Verde beat 2-0.

O jogador viu um vermelho direto frente a Guiné Equatorial por conduta anti-desportiva, na derrota em Malabo por 4-3 … [e] deveria cumprir quatro jogos de suspensão, mas apenas ficou de fora nos encontros com a Guiné Equatorial e Serra Leoa em casa. Frente a Tunísia, deveria cumprir o seu terceiro jogo de castigo…

The player was given a red card against Equitorial Guinea for unsporting conduct in the 4-3 loss in Malabo .. and had to serve a four-match suspension, but only sat out the two encounters at home against Equitorial Guinea and Sierra Leone. The match against Tunisia should have been the third in the suspension… 

So, it looks like it will be Cape Verde’s lawyers v Tunisia’s lawyers that will decide the outcome. It’s bound to be a penalty shoot-out after extra time. Some of the lawyers will probably get sent off too for unsporting conduct.

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