FIFA rules Emilio Nsue was never eligible for Equatorial Guinea and takes away 2026 WC qualifying wins

June 4 – FIFA has ruled that Emilio Nsue, the top scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations this year, was never eligible to play for Equatorial Guinea throughout his 11-year international career.

As punishment FIFA have stripped Equatorial Guinea of their World Cup 2026 qualification wins against both Namibia and Liberia, with their opponents awarded a three-goal victory. Nsue twice scored the winning goal in 1-0 victories.

FIFA has also banned Nsue (pictured) for six months and fined him CHF 150,000 (£131,000).

In 2013, FIFA ruled that Nsue was not eligible to play for Equatorial Guinea after he featured for Spain’s youth teams, including playing in the U-20 World Cup in 2011, but he continued to play for the West African country.

He had played 26 competitive matches for Spain from under-16 level through to under-21 and featured in the European Under-21 Championship in 2011. FIFA says Equatorial Guinea requested Nsue’s release from the Spanish FA but did not make the request through FIFA.

Nsue “apparently only acquired the Equatoguinean nationality (March 2013) after having played in his first international match in an official competition” with Spain, FIFA ruled.

Nsue “still took part in a substantial number of matches for the (men’s senior) representative team of the FEGUIFOOT over a significant period of time, while undoubtedly knowing that he was ineligible,” the FIFA judges wrote.

He featured in qualifying games for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The 34-year-old has played more than 40 games and scored 23 goals for the country. Earlier this year, he netted five goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, playing in his second continental finals.

FIFA said that they took action only against Nsue’s 2026 World Cup games because that is an active competition. Nsue can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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