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League football in Libya overcomes obstacles to return after a two-year absence

Action from Al Ahly Benghazi (in red) against Al Hilal in the Libyan league
Action from Al Ahly Benghazi (in red) against Al Hilal in the Libyan league

League football is being played in Libya for the first time since April 2019 when civil war ended the season prematurely.

The new season kicked off on 25 January and so far there have not been any issues in a country where a ceasefire is in place but political tension remains tense and security precarious.

As well as the political issues, the league has also begun in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“We were very keen on starting the Libyan league despite all the circumstances that we faced,” the secretary general of the Libyan Football Federation, Abdul Nasser Ahmed, told BBC Sport Africa.

“We worked with clubs and state institutions to provide a suitable atmosphere for the launch, and we’ve achieved that.

“Libyan football has suffered greatly in the absence of the league, and its return will be a positive for the Libyan national team ahead of our upcoming matches.

“This has been a joint effort by all the stakeholders who have encouraged this move and have been working in co-operation with the Libyan Football Federation to overcome all obstacles whether security or health.

“In light of the outbreak of the coronavirus, the health authorities have agreed to the start of the league on the condition that the clubs adhere to several precautions and in particular that the league will be held without fans in stadiums.”

Action from Shabab Aljabal (in blue) against Darnes in the Libyan league
Action from Shabab Aljabal (in blue) against Darnes in the Libyan league

Due to travel complications and the continued political tensions in the country, the 46th season sees the top-flight split into two pools of 12 teams.

The top two from each group progress to a semi-final stage and the winners of those two games meet to decide Libya’s first league champions since Al Nasser in 2018.


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