Referee collapses in Ivory Coast during Afcon qualifier

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Soccer stadium (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Soccer stadium (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Ghanaian referee Charles Bulu collapsed 80 minutes into a Group K Afcon qualifier match in Abidjan between Ivory Coast and Ethiopia on Tuesday and was removed on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

His condition was not immediately known.

Originally chosen as the fourth official, Bulu handled the game because a fellow Ghanaian failed to arrive at the match venue.

An Ivorian was drafted in as the fourth official, but Ethiopia questioned his neutrality as a replacement for Bulu and refused to continue playing.

When the match was abandoned 10 minutes from time, Ivory Coast were leading the match 3-1. 

It isn't yet unclear what the official result of the match will be, but regardless of hat it is, both sides have secured qualification to participate in January's Afcon that will be hosted in Cameroon.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Benin refused to play a key Afcon qualifier in Sierra Leone after challenging positive Covid-19 tests for five of their players.

There were five qualifying places up for grabs and Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania took four with Benin or Sierra Leone set to join them.

Rows over Covid-19 tests have plagued African football since last year with host national teams and clubs accused of producing false positive results to deprive opponents of stars.

Talks between Sierra Leone, Benin and Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials in Freetown failed to resolve the standoff as both squads remained in their hotels.

Benin hold a three-point lead over Sierra Leone in Group L and both teams have a chance of finishing runners-up to Nigeria.

Tuesday's Afcon qualifying results:

Ivory Coast 3-1 Ethiopia (match abandoned after 80 minutes)

Niger 0-0 Madagascar

CAR 0-1 Mauritania

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