Senegal disqualified after African Cup riot


DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -Senegal was disqualified from next year's African Cup of Nations on Tuesday, although the country was already about to be eliminated in qualifying when its fans rioted and caused the game against Ivory Coast to be abandoned.

The Confederation of African Football said Senegal was thrown out of qualifying and therefore the tournament in January and February because of the trouble at Leopold Senghor stadium in Dakar on Saturday. It caused the game to be called off by the referee late in the second half.

There could be other punishments for Senegal, CAF said in its statement, if the body's disciplinary board chooses to act further. CAF confirmed Ivory Coast was the winner of the match and would proceed to the African Cup in South Africa.

Ivory Coast was leading 2-0 in the 74th minute of the second leg - and 6-2 on aggregate in the final round of qualifying - when Senegalese fans set fire to their own flag and began tearing up the stands, throwing missiles onto the pitch and attacking visiting supporters.

The supporters tore apart a section of the metal fencing separating two parts of the stadium, forcing police to fire tear gas to break up the mob.

Both Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast team and the Senegal players gathered in the center circle and were surrounded by police. Visiting Ivorian supporters were also herded onto the stadium turf so that security forces could protect them.

Senegal President Macky Sall, who was attending a summit in Congo, apologized for the incidents.

"It's inadmissible. Nothing can justify what happened," Sall said, according to the state-owned "Le Soleil" newspaper. "I present my sincere apology to Ivory Coast, to CAF (the Confederation of African Football) and to all sports fans."

Senegal's state-owned newspaper reported that more than 60 people were wounded. Among them was Senegal's minister of sports, who was hit in the head by a rock, while the Senegalese Press Agency said a match official was also hit by a projectile.

Security forces waited about two hours on the field before being able to evacuate the players, fearing that their convoy might be attacked.

"We brought three black 4x4s and a couple of unmarked buses," said 21-year-old Habib Ndiaye, who helped provide security during the match. "Then we made them leave, each one with four or five players. I am so embarrassed by what happened. Never in more than 14 years of working in the stadium have I seen something like this."

CAF could also fine Senegal, which was a quarterfinalist at the 2002 World Cup, or prevent future matches being held at the Dakar stadium.

Trouble began on Saturday night after Drogba scored from the penalty spot for his second goal of the game and a 2-0 lead to the visiting team.

A fan had already run onto the pitch and headed for Drogba before his kick and had to be stopped. After the Ivory Coast captain scored, supporters lit fires, causing a haze of smoke over the stadium. They then began tearing apart the stands, yanking pieces of cinder blocks and hurling them onto the field. Cars were driven onto the pitch to take away Ivorian fans, and the Ivory Coast team was hustled out by police holding shields.

"Missiles, stones, bottles, firecrackers were thrown onto the pitch, and tear gas was used prompting the referee to stop the match after 74 minutes of match had been played," CAF noted in its ruling on Tuesday. "As a result, CAF decided to officially confirm the result of the match as 2-0 in favor of Ivory Coast.

"If the referee is forced to stop the match before the end of regular time because of invasion of the field or aggression against the visiting team, the host team shall be considered the loser and shall be eliminated from the competition."

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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