On Friday, FIFA decided to suspend Sudan’s membership due to government interference in the sport. Three clubs were immediately disqualified from playing in international competitions.
SFA president and board ousted
The decision came after Sudan Football Association (SFA) president, Mutasim Gaafar Sir Elkhatim, along with the association’s board of directors, were detached from their position after a decree from the Sudanese government. According to a letter by FIFA, the suspension will be lifted when the SFA board and president are reinstated.
“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 statement read.
Sudan in breach of FIFA statutes
The letter also stated that the suspension means that Sudan lose all its FIFA membership rights. FIFA strictly prohibits governmental interference in the running of a member association.
Problems came to a head in April, when elections took place in the SFA, even though FIFA stated that no elections should take place until October 2017. Abdel Rahman, a former defence minister, won the illegal elections and replaced Mutasim Gaafar, who reported the matter to FIFA.
Since then, the two rival groups, the one led by Mutasim Gaafar and the one led by Abdel Rahman, have been claiming to be managing the SFA's affairs; FIFA only recognizes the group run by Mutasim.
On 2 June, Mutasim along with SFA’s board of directors, were forcefully evacuated from their headquarters. The evacuation was enforced by a decree from the Ministry of Justice. After this event, Abdel Rahman and his groups took the premises.
Then, 11 days later, FIFA sent a delegation to Khartoum in order to reach a solution between the two disputing groups with the support of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Abdel-Karim Musa. However, the parts did not agree to the directions the FIFA officials were intending to enforce.
At the end of June, FIFA’s Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, addressed a letter to the SFA, warning that a suspension would occur if certain measures were not taken by the 30th of the month. At the time of publishing, the SFA has failed to take action as requested by FIFA.
Sudanese teams banned from competition
FIFA’s suspension means that three Sudan clubs have been disqualified from CAF tournaments. Al-Hilal SC, who were already eliminated from the Champions League, were supposed to be hosting Mozambique’s Ferroviario Beira on 8 July.
Al Merrekih, who still had a chance to advance to the knockouts, were due to face Étoile Sportive du Sahel in Tunisia today. Also, Al-Hilal SC, who were competing in the Confederation Cup, were meant to play their last group stage match against Zambia’s Zesco on Sunday. Al-Hilal had already qualified to the next stage, but it will now be Zesco who will play the quarter-finals.