Ebola Scare Hits Football; Govt Bans Teams From Away Games

Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Guinea in October has been put on hold after the government placed a moratorium on Ghanaian teams from travelling to countries hard hit by the deadly Ebola virus for international sporting events.

Yesterday at a Meet-the-Press briefing, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hannah Tetteh, announced that as part of a general travel advisory for Ghanaians, national teams and all other teams were barred from such foreign sporting engagements in the sub-region.

The advisory forms part of measures by the government to reduce the likelihood of Ghanaians coming into contact with the deadly virus which has affected countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea.

“The risks are high and we have to reduce the opportunities for people coming into contact with the Ebola virus. We must avoid creating avenues for the disease to come into the country,” she said.

Beyond suspending sporting engagements involving Ghanaian teams in countries ravaged by the virus, the government as a precautionary measure, has turned down a request by the Sierra Leone FA to honour its home matches of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Ghana.

In a related development, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has described as a big relief, the decision by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to move all matches from Ebola-hit countries to neutral grounds, to avoid the spread of the viral disease.

With the virus spreading like wild fire, particularly in West Africa, the GFA president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, last week told the Graphic Sports that the FA was going to seek advice from the necessary agencies, as well as draw CAF’s attention to the issue.

Mr Nyantakyi told the Graphic Sports: “The decision by CAF to move the matches from the risk countries to neutral grounds is the most practical decision. It is also a big relief to everyone, including us, as we don’t have to pull out of the competition or travel to play with the risk occupying our attention.”