By: Amjad Mustafa Amin
Sudan has managed to avoid a FIFA freeze of its football activity as of Friday June 30 after the two feuding groups reached a compromise solution resulting in the return of the sitting executives of the Sudan Football Association (SFA) to their offices.
Earlier, the Ministry of Justice had allowed a contending group, led by Lt. General Abdelraman Siralkhatim, to take over the football administration on the grounds that they had won the election the result of which the incumbent executive committee did not recognize.
The FIFA on Wednesday gave Sudan a 48-hour notice to return the sitting SFA executives to their offices or face a freeze.
According to a compromise agreement reached late Thursday night, the sitting executive committee will immediately return to its offices at the SFA premises and dispense their duties.
The agreement, reached through good offices from senior government officials, said the football affairs would be run jointly by both groups until the SFA law is reformed and a new election is held towards the end of October.
“Sudan has avoided the FIFA freeze by an agreement between the FIFA- recognized administration, led by Dr.Mu’tasim Ja’afar, and the reform and renaissance group, led by General Sirelkhatim,” announced Youth and Sports Minister, Dr. Abdelkareem Musa, late Thursday night after a lengthy meeting between the mediators and the two feuding groups.
“The meeting was cordial and had reached agreement on common points which will be drafted and announced Friday morning,” he said.
The Minister also said the incumbent SFA chair Mu’tasim Ja’afar was agreed to immediately inform the FIFA about these developments.
According to the Minister, the two groups would run the SFA affairs jointly (50%-50%) until the new elections are held.
A delegation of the FIFA that visited Sudan in early June had revised the SFA basic statute and reportedly made remarks on 134 of its articles, urging for them to be amended to conform with the FIFA laws.
The dispute erupted in April between the sitting executives of the SFA, led by Dr. Mu’tasim Ja’afar and a contesting group led by Lt. General Abderahman Sirralkhatim , a former defense minister, on electing a new executive.
An SFA general assembly ruled in the latter’s favor, asking for the elections to be held immediately. But the incumbents argued that the elections should by deferred until after the SFA law is reformed as the FIFA had advised. Here the General’s group insisted upon the elections. The SFA elections committee chairman distanced himself from the affair. Other members of the elections committee went ahead with the general Assembly that gave a sweeping victory to the Siralkatim group. The incumbent executive committee had boycotted the process.
The SFA considered the elections null and void, refused a handover and reported the matter to the FIFA.
The elected group first tried to take the SFA premises by force but failed to do so. They then filed a complaint with the Ministry of Justice that ruled in their favor, ordering the SFA premises to be evacuated from the incumbents and allowing the new executives to get in.
Before the elections, the incumbents had petitioned with the FIFA for an election delay until the SFA law is reformed, a petition the FIFA had accepted. They also cited wide scale government interference in the election process, in particular from the state security. They reportedly supplied the FIFA with a video in which one of the voters confessed that he was coerced by the security to vote for the Siralkhatim group.
The FIFA freeze warning had put the Sudan football community into a dilemma as two of the country’s teams ( al-Merrikh and al-Hilal) are to clash today (Friday) in the CAF Champions League Groups contest. Another of the country’s teams, Hilal al-Obayyid, also has a scheduled game against a Congolese team in the CAF Confederation Cup.
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