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Emilio Nsue: AFCON topscorer banned for six months

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Football’s governing body, Fifa, has ruled that Emilio Nsue, the top scorer at the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, was ineligible to represent Equatorial Guinea throughout his international career.

This follows a previous finding in 2013, where Fifa deemed Nsue ineligible due to his prior appearances for Spain’s youth teams in official competitions. Despite this, Nsue continued to play for Equatorial Guinea.

A fresh investigation launched in March 2023 saw Nsue sanctioned for failing to respond within the allocated timeframe. As a consequence, Equatorial Guinea will forfeit their World Cup 2026 qualifying victories over Namibia and Liberia, with both opponents awarded a 3-0 win. These games were originally 1-0 victories for Equatorial Guinea, with Nsue scoring the winning goal in each match.

Nsue himself faces a six-month international ban, while the Equatoguinean Football Federation (Feguifut) has been fined 150,000 Swiss francs (£131,000).

The decision hinges on Nsue’s participation in competitive matches for Spain’s youth teams before representing Equatorial Guinea’s senior side without authorisation for a change of association. Fifa previously informed Feguifut in 2013 that Nsue appeared to have acquired Equatoguinean nationality after his international debut for the nation.

This is not the first instance of Nsue’s eligibility causing issues. When his ineligibility was first established in 2013, Equatorial Guinea forfeited two World Cup 2014 qualifiers as 3-0 defeats.

Prior to this ruling, Nsue had amassed over 40 caps and 23 goals for Equatorial Guinea, including five goals at the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations. Nsue, who has played for clubs like Mallorca, Middlesbrough, and Birmingham City, helped his team top their group stage before a last-16 exit to Guinea.

Fifa’s disciplinary committee clarified that their action only pertains to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers due to its ongoing nature.

Nsue, currently playing for Spanish third-tier side Intercity, has the right to appeal the decision through Fifa and subsequently the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if the initial appeal is unsuccessful.

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