Somali Football Federation under threat of FIFA suspension

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The Somali Football Federation (SFF) has been embroiled in a crisis that could potentially lead to an international suspension from FIFA. 

The crisis began in 2022 when the then-president of the SFF, Abdigani Said Arab, was accused of abusing his authority during an extraordinary congress and was subsequently removed from his position. 

Ali Abdi Mohamed (Shiino), the first vice-president, was appointed caretaker president. However, disputes intensified, with Shiino facing multiple accusations.

SFF election controversies

Shiino was tasked with overseeing a free and fair election, but he was accused of running an opaque election. 

A select committee was formed to organize the election, with Shiino and Hassan Wish running for the presidency. However, delegates supporting Wish were disqualified, leading to the election committee’s disarray and prompting government intervention.

Wish blamed Shiino for undermining his candidacy and accused him of being the mastermind behind the committee’s unfavorable announcements. Shiino denied the allegations and stated that he adhered to the decision made by the election committee and congress. 

Several amendments were made during the preparations for the election, including expanding the congress membership that elects the federation president, which angered an SFF faction, questioning the legality of the move and the intentions behind it. 

Ali Barre, a member of the congress, accused Shiino of adding more than a dozen members to the congress.

The Ministry of Sports mediates

Members supporting Wish filed a complaint with the Ministry of Sports after being told they did not meet the eligibility requirements for the election, leading to the ministry suspending the election scheduled for early February. 

The Ministry of Sports, in collaboration with football stakeholders, including former football players, has initiated mediation efforts to reach a common ground. 

During a recent open discussion, the Minister of Sports, Mohamed Barre, clarified that sports policy falls under his ministry’s jurisdiction, giving him the right to mediate and intervene if any irregularities arise reasonably.

FIFA suspension looms

Despite the ongoing reconciliation efforts, football expert Hussein Abkow warned the Minister of Sports not to interfere in football matters, citing the possibility that FIFA may decide to ban Somalia from international football. 

If the situation remains chaotic and wrangles continue within SFF, the country may face a ban from FIFA, hampering its soccer growth. 

This is especially true as the country celebrated its recent victory in the East African Under 17 tournament, a first in its football history.

Mediation to end the stalemate

Former Somalia midfielder Hassan Karanle, one of the figures mediating to end of the stalemate, remains optimistic about the ongoing reconciliation efforts. 

He emphasizes the need for all parties to come together, compromise, resolve their differences, and hold free, fair, and transparent elections. Only through this can the sport save football in the country, which is now gaining momentum and may collapse if friction continues.

Somalia’s national team has made significant progress in recent years. The victory in the East African Under 17 tournament is a testament to this growth. However, the ongoing crisis threatens to undo all the gains made in the sport. 

A ban from FIFA would impact the national team and have significant ramifications for the country’s domestic leagues and grassroots football development.

Institutions must uphold the rule of law

The crisis in the SFF serves as a reminder of the need for institutions to uphold the rule of law and adhere to legal processes. 

The allegations of impropriety in the SFF’s election highlight the need for transparency and accountability in all processes. Without these, the credibility of institutions and the public’s trust are eroded, leading to instability and crises such as the one currently being witnessed in the SFF. 

The Ministry of Sports and the SFF must work together to ensure that the ongoing crisis is resolved amicably and that free and fair elections are held. This will allow the sport to thrive and serve as a beacon of hope to the country’s citizens, who have longed for stability and normalcy.