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Azerbaijani corruption fetches ban from Fifa

Zurich: Azerbaijan’s soccer federation has been suspended until further notice by world soccer’s governing body Fifa, threatening the country’s involvement in the Euro 2004 qualifying competition.

Azeri soccer has been in turmoil since 2000 when leading clubs accused Azeri soccer federation president Fuav Musayev of favouring corruption.

Clubs and the federation are at loggerheads and there has been a police investigation into the ruling body’s finances.

“Having taken note of the latest developments in Azerbaijan football, most notably the severe and unacceptable levels of external pressure in recent times, the Fifa Emergency Committee has decided to suspend the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA),” Fifa said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Having made numerous appeals to bring the situation in the country back to normal, world football’s governing body had no other choice than to suspend the association.

“This suspension comes into force immediately and will be in place until further notice.”

However, Azerbaijan have been allowed to play in the qualifying competition for the 2004 European championships, where they have lost four and drawn one of their Group Nine games.

If the ban remains in force for several months, Azerbaijan face the prospect of being thrown out of the tournament and their results annulled.

(Reuters)

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