(Reuters) - FIFA is concerned at the way a succession of African teams have broken rules on player eligibility in World Cup qualifiers and will address the problem, director of competitions Mustapha Fahmy said on Friday.
Eight matches have been forfeited during the competition because one of the teams involved fielded a player who was ineligible either under nationality rules or through suspension.
In each case, a 3-0 walkover was awarded to the offending team's opponents which in several cases had a significant effect on the outcome of the respective group.
"We have noted with some concern what has happened with a number of teams falling foul to the rules of the competition, which are clearly spelt out," Fahmy told the Confederation of African Football (CAF) website (www.cafonline.com).
"This only happened with one continent, Africa... others, like Europe, Asia or South America did not experience the same problems where disciplinary action had to be taken.
"We need to look into what happened and work on finding solutions and ways to assist (so we can avoid) similar occurrences in future," added Fahmy, a former CAF secretary general.
"We will come up with possible solutions and discuss them in our relevant courses with member associations. FIFA will aim to provide means and ways to help, so that we address something that obviously went wrong.
"We are always looking to improve and provide better organisation for all our competitions."
The most recent case cost Cape Verde a place in the final round of playoff matches which will determine Africa's five teams at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Cape Verde topped their group after winning 2-0 in Tunisia but were found to have fielded a player who should have been serving a four-match ban and were penalised with a 3-0 defeat. Tunisia, whose coach Nabil Maaloul resigned after the defeat, took their place and will face Cameroon over two legs with Dutchman Rudi Krol as their former coach.
Cape Verde had themselves been on the other end of a similar case when they lost 4-3 to Equatorial Guinea, only to be given a 3-0 win because their opponents fell foul of the rules.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Justin Palmer)