The Somali Football Association has repeated its call for the African Peacekeeping troops to leave the Somalia National Stadium in Mogadishu Midnimo.com reported.
Somali Football Federation president Abdi Qani Said Arab held a lengthy meeting with the commander of AU peacekeepers stationed at Stadium Mogadishu and other military officials during which they discussed on the possibility of AU troops to withdraw from the facility.
“This is time to get the Somali soccer facilities back to the SFF hands, because our football is now recovering from years of conflicts and all soccer facilities must get back to our hands Somali Football Federation president Abdi Qani Said Arab told the media.
The 50,000-capacity stadium has been occupied by the African Union Mission in Somalia for nearly a decade, preventing it from hosting any sport.
“We ask that [the troops] vacate the stadium in order for it to be used for the purpose it was built for,” said Somali FA president Abdiqani Said Arab.
The SFA also made the request in 2013.
Somali Football Federation president Abdi Qani Said Arab told to the Somali senior Sports Journalist Mr Ahmed Mooge ,said he wants to see the return of “Somali youth participate in sports activities, as well as associations such as the Olympics doing their work (in the stadium)”.
“We are making such repeated requests so that we can prepare ourselves as other countries are doing,” he added.
Ex-Somali Football Federation Secretary General Abdi Qani Said Arab now Somali Football Federation president Abdi Qani Said Arab said Somalia had been forced to abandon their efforts for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations because of their inability to play in their home ground.
Despite being known as one of Africa’s more modern and well-designed stadiums – capable of hosting basketball, volleyball and even swimming in addition to football – the Somali National Stadium has barely been used because of over two decades of anarchy and civil war in Somalia.
The stadium’s occupiers have changed several times – in the early 1990s American units were based there, as shown in the climax of the movie Black Hawk Down.
It became a base for Ethiopia’s troops after they invaded Somalia between 2007-2009. Lastly it became base for the African Union Mission.
Somali Football Federation president Mr.Abdi Qani Said Arab said the troops are using the stadium as barracks.
The Somali Football Federation has recently started efforts to exploit the relative peace in the capital, with the aim of finally seeing the return of international home matches.
Stadium Mogadishu was built for Somalia by Chinese government in 1978 and one time it was the largest and the most beautiful facility in Africa and the Arab world. It hosted many international competitions including All Arab games, All African games, the CECAFA tournament and many others.
For the past 22 years of lack of a functioning government in Somalia, stadium Mogadishu has experienced the most difficult times yet and it several times changed into military compound for foreign troops in Somalia.
In 1993 the facility was occupied by the US peacekeepers who operated in Somalia early 1990s.
In January 2007 Stadium Mogadishu fell into the hands of Ethiopian forces who were based there until they withdrew from Somalia early 2009. It then fell into the hands of notorious Al-shabaab fighters who used it as a training base before they were forced out of capital by Somali government forces and AU troops in August 2011.
After the year 2011 stadium Mogadishu has been house to thousands of African Union peacekeepers helping the fragile Somali government.
Ahmed Mooge reporting from Mogadishu-Somalia.