After more than two years of banning Libyan clubs from hosting football tournaments, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has lifted the ban, a decision that has been received by an official welcoming and a popular carnival.

After more than two years of banning Libyan clubs from hosting football tournaments, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has lifted the ban, a decision that has been received by an official welcoming and a popular carnival.

Having been the last Libyan team to play an official match on home turf, days before the outbreak of the revolution in 2011, against Algerian Chabab de Batna Club in the African Confederation Cup at Hugo Chavez Stadium in the village of Baninah, a suburb of Benghazi, Al Nasr football Club was the first Libyan team to play an official post-ban match on home on April 5.


Large audiences attended the match that was spotlighted by several national and international bodies, the most prominent of which was the FIFA, to evaluate the possibility of lifting the international ban in order to enable the Libyan National Team to play its remaining matches of the World Cup qualifiers at home in June.

Although the match ended in a 1-1 draw and Al Nasr went out of the competition, commentator Zine el-Abidine Burkan said, “It was a celebratory rather than a competitive event.” And the match was described as successful in terms of organization and security. This has improved the chances of lifting the international ban and re-commencing the Libyan league after a two-season suspension due to a deteriorated security situation.

Allayed doubts

During a two-hour meeting held on the sidelines of the CAF General Assembly in Marrakesh early in March, the CAF President, Issa Hayatou, reassured the Libyan delegation that Libya was still scheduled to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations (CAN).

This confirmation has allayed all doubts about the CAF’s intention to move the event from Libya, contrary to what happened in 2013 when it was moved to South Africa. The confirmation has also alleviated accusations made by the Libyan media against Hayatou of trying to move the tournament again from Libya, citing his statements in which he described the security situation in Libya as unstable.

Successful visit

In mid-March, CAF sent a delegation to Libya, headed by Kenyan Kabila, to investigate the security situation and infrastructure. The delegation met with Libya’s Minister of Youth and Sports Abdussalam Guaila, his Undersecretary Juma Shoushan and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Security Affairs Omar Khadrawi.

The delegation also inspected the capital’s major hotels and airports in addition to Tripoli’s International Stadium, which hosted a three-run match between Libyan teams; namely, Alittihad, Al Madina and Al Ahli-Benghazi in the delegation’s honor.

Afterwards, it headed to Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, where it conducted a similar tour that was described, like its predecessor, as successful. And an exhibition match was arranged between two local teams.

Only 48 hours after the visit, CAF’s Executive Committee decided to lift the ban against Libya. Further, Kabila explicitly announced that Libya would host the 2017 CAN.

Optimism regained       

The news was received with great satisfaction among sport circles, and Libyan football officials announced that the league of 2013/2014 would be immediately launched after Ramadan without determining whether fans would be allowed in the stadiums or not, as in Egypt and Tunisia.

For its part, the Libyan Ministry of Youth and Sports earlier launched a contest to design the 2017 CAN logo with an award of 10,000 Libyan dinars (US $7,852) to be given to the winner, who will be decided by the contest-supervising committee.

Official welcoming

Addressing the Libyan and international media, Guaila welcomed the decision to lift the ban and hoped FIFA would take the same decision. He stressed that his ministry would bear full responsibility and cooperate with all parties, particularly security apparatus, for the success of any coming sport event in Libya, especially the 2017 CAN.

Guaila even said Libya would seek to host major international competitions, such as the World Cup. “We have funds, will and all potentials,” he said, stressing that his ministry would make all resources available for the Libyan Federation of Football to relocate Libyan football on the Arab, African and world level.

President of the Federation Anwar Tashani said CAF’s decision was positive, adding that Libya proved its ability to arrange and host the matches after the great improvement of the security situation in the country.

Matter of time

“Lifting the international ban is a matter of time. We addressed the FIFA which in turn included Libya’s next two matches with Congo and Togo – scheduled in Tripoli in June and July – in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in the fixtures on its official website,” Tashani added.

As for the possibility of a return to local sports, he made it clear that “It is one of CAF’s conditions to lift the ban. We will commit to organize activities as soon as possible and we will seek to re-launch the league very soon so that we can determine the participating teams at early time.”


For his part, sports media man Abdulfattah Zakri said the decision was fair, though a bit late, adding that the challenge then was to demonstrate sportsmanship, ensure safety and security for visiting teams and give a good impression about the country to the Arab, African and international federations.

This, he says, will encourage FIFA to lift the ban so that Libya may play the rest of the World Cup qualifiers on home soil, which is greatly desired by Libyans.