By Michael Pavitt

Play was halted eight minutes from time due to crowd trouble ©AFP/Getty ImagesMorocco have been fined and banned from the next two Africa Cup of Nations after withdrawing as this year's hosts, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced, while replacements Equatorial Guinea have also been sanctioned after violence marred their semi-final defeat to Ghana.

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament but withdrew after the CAF rejected their request to postpone the tournament due to Ebola fears, with Equatorial Guinea stepping into the void despite having been initially disqualified in the qualification phase for fielding an ineligible player.

CAF have now decided to fine the Royal Moroccan Football Federation $1 million (£660,000/€870,000) and are seeking $9 million (£6 million/€8 million) in damages for their withdrawal as hosts, while banning them from competing in 2017 and 2019.

Equatorial Guinea have been sanctioned after their semi-final last night had to be halted for 30 minutes with the score at 3-0 to Ghana, after the home crowd littered the field of play with objects, injuring spectators and requiring the Ghanaian players to seek police protection.

Medical teams identified that at least 36 fans were injured and in need of treatment at the ground, with 14 of those needing to be transported to hospital for further observations.

As a consequence, CAF have ruled that the Equatorial Guinea Football Federation must cover the cost of treatment for all injured fans at the match, as well as a fine of $100,000 (£65,000/€88,000) for the aggressive behaviour of their fans.

A police helicopter was called in to help deal with the crowd trouble ©Getty ImagesA police helicopter was called in to help deal with the crowd trouble ©Getty Images

CAF cited the poor crowd behaviour from the host nation in their match against Gabon on January 26 and February 3 against Tunisia, for which they were fined $5,000 (£3,000/€4,500), as additional reasons behind the fine.

Additionally, the CAF Disciplinary Panel ruled that Equatorial Guinea will play their next official match after the Africa Cup of Nations behind closed doors, although this sanction will be suspended unless further crowd trouble occurs during the third place playoff against the Democratic Republic of Congo tomorrow. 

Last night's crowd trouble was the latest in a string of troubles for the CAF during the tournament.

This has included suspending the referee who officiated over Equatorial Guinea's controversial quarter final win over Tunisia, also fining and demanding an apology from the Tunisian Football Federation (TFF) for "insinuations of bias and lack of ethics against CAF and it's officials".

Tunisia's quarter-final defeat to the hosts was yet another controversy at the showpiece continental event ©AFP/Getty ImagesTunisia's quarter-final defeat to the hosts was yet another controversy at the showpiece continental event ©AFP/Getty Images

The TFF were given until midnight last night to provide an apology or risk being expelled from the 2017 edition of the tournament, but have refused the demand with a Committee member widely reported as saying that the team had "suffered scandalous injustice from referees".

This supposedly culminated in the awarding of a contentious penalty in Equatorial Guinea's favour during the quarter-final.

English Premier League side West Ham United were also fined by FIFA after their Senegalese striker Diafra Sakho played in an FA Cup tie despite ruling himself out of the Africa Cup of Nations due to an injury.

The various troubles have threatened to overshadow action on the pitch, with the final of the tournament due to take place on Sunday (February 8) between the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

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