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FIFA lifts suspension from Sri Lanka ahead of first Asian qualifying games for 2026 World Cup

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA lifted a suspension on the Sri Lanka Football Federation on Monday that was imposed for government interference in its independence, clearing the men’s national team to begin qualifying games for the 2026 World Cup.

The suspension of teams, referees and officials from international soccer threatened Sri Lanka playing Yemen in October in a two-leg series in the first round of Asian qualifying for the next World Cup being played across North America. The winner advances into a group with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and either Nepal or Laos.

FIFA imposed the sanction in January when the federation was not exempted from a Sri Lankan law that put limits on candidates for sports elections.

The federation should now have fresh elections on Sept. 29, FIFA said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s men’s team is ranked 204 of the 211 FIFA member federations, 25 years since reaching its highest status of No. 122.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer