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FIFA suspends Azerbaijan

FIFA has suspended the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan.

World football's governing body FIFA has suspended the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) until further notice.

Various problems
FIFA said in a statement on Tuesday that the decision had been taken in the wake of various problems affecting football in the country, which have not been solved despite recent attempts by both FIFA and UEFA to bring about agreement.

Latest developments
"Having taken note of the latest developments in Azerbaijani football, most notably the severe and unacceptable levels of external pressure in recent times, the FIFA Emergency Committee has decided to suspend the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA)," said FIFA. "This suspension comes into force immediately and will be in place until further notice."

Club and national teams
The world body added that as a result of the suspension, Azerbaijan's clubs and representative teams would not be allowed to take part in international friendly or competitive matches, and that the AFFA would not be entitled to vote at any congresses held by international football bodies. UEFA said on hearing of the suspension that it will adhere to FIFA's decision with regard to matches involving Azerbaijani club and national teams.

September agreement
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter recently expressed regret about the attitude of Azerbaijani First Division clubs to an agreement in Zurich last September, signed with the mediation of FIFA and UEFA, who joined AFFA representatives, Azeri clubs and the country’s ministry of youth and tourism to help persuade ten leading clubs to take part in the national championship after they had quit the league the previous spring. However, FIFA said on Tuesday that the terms of the September agreement had not been honoured.

'No other choice'
"Having made numerous appeals to bring the situation in the country back to normal, world football's governing body had no other choice than to suspend the association," said FIFA. "While this decision is certainly regrettable for Azerbaijani football, it was unavoidable due to the repeated violations of sport's fundamental ethical principles by organisations or bodies that have not honoured the commitments they made when they signed an agreement in Zurich on 20 September 2002."

Zurich agreement
The world body urged that the Zurich agreement be followed. "The FIFA Emergency Committee [...] insisted once again that the above-mentioned agreement be implemented in its entirety," it said.