FIFA rules Syria unsafe for Olympic qualifier

FIFA rules Syria unsafe for Olympic qualifier

Published May. 18, 2011 10:42 a.m. ET

Syria is searching for a neutral venue to hold its 2012 Olympics qualifier after FIFA ruled the country was unsafe because of ongoing anti-government protests.

The first leg was originally scheduled to be played at the Al Abbassiyin Stadium in Damascus on June 19. However, FIFA informed the Syrian FA that it had decided to move the match against Turkmenistan to a neutral venue after taking into account ''the very exceptional security circumstances still prevailing in Syria.''

Syria says it will come up with a neutral venue this week.

Since mid-March, Syria has launched a violent crackdown against protesters that rights groups say has left more than 850 people dead. Thousands more have been detained.