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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Criticism of choice of venue for DRC’s AFCON qualifying matches causes FECOFA to reconsider

The Congolese Association Football Federation (FECOFA) is on the defense after its decision to host DR Congo’s next 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches outside the country drew massive amounts of criticism from Leopards supporters as well as a prominent national team player. After the Confederation of African Football (CAF) determined that the Stade des Martyrs (pictured above) in Kinshasa was not a suitable venue for DR Congo’s upcoming match against Mauritania on March 20, FECOFA announced that the Japoma Stadium in Douala, Cameroon would host the match. This decision was made knowing that the stadium of Congolese power club TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi was an available option.

FECOFA’s decision has been met with a wave of backlash from supporters of football in the country and is only intensifying after an important member of the Leopards team added his opinion. Yoane Wissa of English Premier League club Brentford took to Instagram and declared the decision “shameful” in a post that indicated the general view of Congolese supporters. FECOFA secretary general Belgian Situatala attempted to reduce the footballing body’s responsibility for the decision by stating that DR Congo national team coach Sébastien Desabre played a major role in the choice of venue and stated the choice of Japoma Stadium is not final.

Following an emergency meeting of FECOFA executives that was urgently called on Monday it appears a final decision will be made on Tuesday and prominent Congolese football media outlet “Foot RDC” indicates that the TP Mazembe Stadium will be announced as the venue for the Mauritania match. It is a crucial match for the Leopards who failed to earn any points from their first two 2023 AFCON qualifying matches with defeats at Sudan and at home to Gabon, leading to the appointment of Desabre to save the Leopards’ campaign to qualify for the Africa’s showcase competition set to take place in Ivory Coast.