Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The Somalia Football Federation (SFF) has been hit by a leadership crisis that threatens to derail the progress made in the last five years.
Two factions have emerged, with claims of corruption, poor governance, and ethnic and political fighting, leading to the intervention of the Ministry of Sports and Congress members to stop planned parallel elections .on February 1 in Mogadishu.
The first faction, led by acting President Ali Abdi Mohamed, had planned to hold their elections at the Elite Hotel. On the other hand, the coalition backing Wish Haji Yabarow, son of former Basketball Federation president Aden Haji Yabarow, was to hold their elections at Jazeera Hotel.
Allegations of election rigging
At least 20 members of Congress have raised allegations against Mohamed, accusing him of scheming a manipulated election.
Critics of Mohamed point fingers at foreign influences as the root cause of the current stalemate, with Souleiman Waberi, the President of the Djibouti Football Federation, repeatedly implicated as a driving force behind Mohamed’s return.
Abdurahman Mumin, a civil society activist, has accused Waberi of using his FIFA and CECAFA connections to influence the polls.
Ali Barre, a co-owner of Hilaac Club, a Series B team, has appealed to FIFA to step in and rescue Somali football. A source cited by Caasimada Online reported that FIFA had extended an invitation to SFF officials for potential arbitration in light of the current turmoil.
Successes and setbacks in the last five years
Football in Somalia, post-civil war, has experienced a considerable expansion in the past five years. The league boasts a diverse array of foreign players from countries across Africa, including Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Cameroon.
The SFF has made remarkable achievements, including constructing world-class stadia and the October 2022 U-17 Cecafa win. However, former SFF President Abdiqani Said Arab was dismissed for abuse of power in December 2021 and was accused of misappropriating funds.
FIFA guidance and ministry ultimatum
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports suspended elections of the SFF that were to be held on December 28, 2022, after receiving complaints from some members of the football fraternity.
The SFF electoral committee disregarded the guidelines outlined in the Somalia Stability Funds statutes, the electoral code, and FIFA’s overall guidance.
The governing body of world football, FIFA, guided the SFF statutes to address the current dilemma, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports has set a deadline for the SFF to organize elections by January 30, 2023.
The fate of the SFF leadership and that of Somalia football remains in the hands of the 46 voting Congress members. The Congress comprises 25 independent organizations, coaches, universities, and federal state representatives.
With the continued wrangles within the Somalia Football Federation, it remains to be seen how the future of football in the country will pan out.