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Diplomatic row after African playoff

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Football fury
  • NEW: Egypt threaten to withdraw from international football
  • Algeria's win over Egypt in Sudan has sparked diplomatic incident
  • Egypt recalls its ambassador to Algeria as row escalates
  • Algeria won fiery playoff match in Sudan to qualify for World Cup finals

CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- A series of clashes between Egyptian and Algerian football fans has led to a diplomatic row between the two north African countries, with Egypt recalling its ambassador to Algiers.

Husam Zaki, a spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, said Cairo has asked its envoy to return from Algeria "for consultations" after a week of tensions over qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup.

Egypt's withdrawal of its ambassador followed Algeria's Thursday refusal to allow an Egyptian plane to land.

The aircraft was dispatched to evacuate Egyptian citizens from Algiers, where press reports said Egyptians have been harassed by Algerian fans.

In addition, Algeria socked Egyptian telecommunications giant Orascom with a nearly $600 million bill for back taxes this week, an assessment Orascom said was based on "unfounded and unacceptable" claims about its accounting.

The disputes began November 12, when Egyptian fans stoned the Algerian team's bus upon its arrival in Cairo and injured several players.

FIFA, the sport's world governing body, announced Thursday that it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Egyptian Football Association as a result of the attacks.

Scuffles between Egyptian and Algerian fans in Cairo and in Algiers followed the Egyptian team's 2-0 victory in Saturday's match, with Egyptian-run businesses reportedly attacked in Algiers.

Both governments arranged for additional flights to get fans to Sudan's capital, Khartoum, for a Wednesday night playoff for a play in the World Cup, which Algeria won 1-0.

The win means Algeria are in the finals for the first time in 24 years, and it prompted more reports of anti-Egyptian violence in Algiers.

Egypt are also unhappy with the arrangements in Sudan, claiming their players and fans were attacked and hinting it could lead them into temporary international exile.

"We will stop playing for two years in protest of what happened during the attack," read a statement on their official federation Web site.

Egypt and Algeria aren't the only countries now involved in a spat over the World Cup.

Ireland and France are at loggerheads over Thierry Henry's handball, which set up the decisive goal for Les Blues in their World Cup playoff.

Irish football officials lodged an official complaint with FIFA at the urging of Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

"We don't mind being beaten fair and square," Ahern told CNN. "But they weren't fairly beaten last night."

FIFA rejected Irish appeals for a replay on Friday, but Henry put out a statement saying it would be the "fairest solution."