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Rwanda’s Cup of Nations disqualification upheld

Rwanda’s appeal against its disqualification from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations has been rejected by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Rwanda was due to face reigning champion Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan in qualifying Group A, but will now be replaced by Congo, the team it defeated in the last round of the preliminary competition.

Congo had appealed to CAF over Rwanda’s use of forward Dady Birori, who plays for AS Vita Club in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a passport from the African country under the name of Etekiama Agiti Tady and with a different age.

A statement on the ruling from CAF read: “The regulation states that any team that has committed fraud on the identity of a player for qualification and/or involved a suspended player, will lose the match and shall be eliminated from the competition by decision of the organising committee who would decide on such matters with facts clearly established.

“It was established that the player Dady Birori, playing with the national team of Rwanda was the same that played in the Champions League with the club AS Vita using the name Etekiama Agiti Tady.

“Based on the documents on record, it was evident that the Rwandan federation was aware of this double identity but proceeded to feature the player for the national team while he held a different identity with the club.”

CAF investigations confirmed the date of birth on Birori’s Rwandan passport is December 12, 1986, while the DR Congo-born striker bears December 13, 1990 on his Congolese passport. Libya lodged a protest against Rwanda and Birori following its loss in the first qualifying round but its claim was rejected.

Bonnie Mugabe, media and communications manager at the Rwandan Football Federation, told UK broadcaster BBC Sport that the organisation is planning a possible appeal that could bring the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) into the dispute.

“We have received communication from CAF indicating that our appeal was not successful,” Mugabe said. “Our officials and lawyers are now analysing the long letter to see the way forward.”

The 2015 Cup of Nations, African football’s showpiece national team tournament, takes place in Morocco from January 17 to February 8. The group phases of the qualifying competition gets underway on Friday.