By Mark Gleeson
Feb 25 (Reuters) – A decade-long ban on international football matches being played in Libya has been lifted, the country’s football federation said on Thursday.
The decision comes less than a month after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) sent a delegation to inspect facilities and the security situation in the north African country, beset by civil strife over the last decade.
“I have good news today, especially for football fans and all Libyans, which is the lifting of the complete ban on all our stadiums, especially the ban in terms of security,” said Libyan Football Federation president Abdulhakim Al-Shalmani in a video message on Twitter (@LibyaFA).
CAF sources on Thursday confirmed to Reuters the lifting of the ban, although the organisation has yet to make an announcement.
Libya’s national team and its clubs competing in African club competition have been forced to stage home matches outside their borders, in countries like Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Tunisia, since the ban was imposed.
An initial restriction was ordered by FIFA in 2011 during the civil war that led to the ousting of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It was lifted briefly in 2013 before being reimposed.
Al Ahly Benghazi will now host their first home game in the group phase of the African Confederation Cup against Entente Setif of Algeria on March 17. Libya’s national team can host neighbours Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier a week later.
Al-Shalmani, who is also a CAF executive committee member, said the Benghazi stadium was earmarked for the first home appearance of the Libyan national side since a World Cup qualifier in mid-2013.
“We have been asked by CAF to put together a security plan to receive the Tunisian team at the Martyrs Benina Stadium, as well as to host other matches later in other Libyan stadiums,” he added.
League football in Libya resumed last month after a three-year hiatus. (Editing by Ed Osmond)
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