Anti-Government Protests Force Second Postponement of Yemen’s Olympic Qualifier

FIFA, soccer’s ruling world body, has postponed for the second time Yemen’s home Olympic Games qualifier against Singapore because of anti-government protests wracking the country.

In a statement FIFA said that the initial and the return match between Yemen and Singapore would have to be played in a third, neutral country to ensure that they take place 'in a totally safe and secure environment'.

The soccer body said a third country and new dates for the matches would be decided by the Asian Football Confederation.

Yemen has been witnessing for the past month mass protests demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh after 30 years in office. Supporters and proponents of the Yemeni leader have repeatedly clashed in the capital Sana’a in the last two weeks of uninterrupted demonstrations.

The protests are part of a wave of anti-government demonstrations sweeping the Middle East and North Africa that have already toppled two leaders, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine Abedine Ben Ali, and led to brutal crackdowns by security forces in Bahrain and Libya.

Egypt and Algeria have suspended all professional league matches to prevent the soccer pitch from becoming a rallying point for the protesters.

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