Somalia: Plea for return of national stadium

Every country likes to think of their national stadium as a fortress but for the Somali Football Federation (SFF) that is literally the case.

The Somalia National Stadium in Mogadishu has been used as a military barracks for much of the last two decades and has most recently by occupied by African Union peacekeeping forces.

Now that the country is enjoying relative stability despite a civil war that has lasted for 24 years, the SFF is ready to return to playing international football but has no venue for home matches.

Somalia’s last home continental qualifier was against Uganda in 1986 and they have used neutral venues to keep competing at international level since.

SFF president Abdiqani Said Arab has blamed the country’s withdrawal from the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifiers on the military occupation of their national stadium and called for the troops to vacate.

“We ask that (the troops) vacate the stadium in order for it to be used for the purpose it was built for,” Said Arab told BBC Somali Service.

“We are making such repeated requests so that we can prepare ourselves as other countries are doing.”

A similar plea from the SFF in 2013 fell on deaf ears. The Somali national team have not played since December 2013, though the domestic league in the country has continued.

The country has been gripped by an ongoing civil war that has raged with varying degrees of ferocity since 1991.