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FIFA ban of Sudan disrupts international competitions

July 7 - 2017 ZURICH
The match on 21 June in the CAF Champions League between Sudan's Hilal El Omdurman versus Etoile du Sahel (BackpagePix)
The match on 21 June in the CAF Champions League between Sudan's Hilal El Omdurman versus Etoile du Sahel (BackpagePix)

The football's world governing body FIFA has decided to ban Sudan because of government interference in the sport. Three clubs were immediately disqualified from playing final group games in international competitions.

A letter by the FIFA, dated 6 July, notified its Sudanese branch – the Sudan Football Association (SFA) – of the suspension. “The suspension will be lifted only once the decree of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice of 2 June 2017 is declared null or void and the Board of Directors of the SFA with its President, Dr. Mutasim Gaafar Sir Elkhatim, is reinstated.”

The order by the Sudanese Ministry of Justice replaced the FIFA-recognised SFA president Jaafar with Sirelkhatim, a move which the Fédération Internationale de Football Association rejected. In June it allowed the SFA to sort out a compromise, but the parties claiming control of the country's association were unable to reach a solution.

On 27 June the body demanded the Ministry of Justice in vain to declare its decree void, on the penalty of the Sudanese FIFA branch SFA losing all its membership rights. Clubs are no longer entitled to take part in international competitions.

Clubs disqualified

FIFA has stated to strongly oppose governmental interference.

As an immediate consequence, the well-known Sudanese football teams El Hilal and El Merrikh have been barred from the Champions League, and Hilal El Obeid from the Confederation Cup.

It means that today's two Champions League final Group A matches featuring Khartoum's two most popular clubs El Hilal and El Merrikh will not go ahead, losing their chance to qualify. Their opponents Etoile Sahel (Tunisia) and Ferroviario Beira (Mozambique) advance in the pool.

Meanwhile in the Confederation Cup, Hilal El Obeid - already qualified for the quarter-finals - saw its final group game against Zambia's Zesco United on Sunday cancelled. 

The ban also means that Sudanese referees are no longer appointed to officiate games, and that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) must scramble to find three new referees for Saturday's Confederation Cup tie between Platinum Stars of South Africa and Swaziland's Mbabane Swallows.

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