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Factional infighting leads Somali Football Federation to postpone elections

Saturday February 4, 2023

Somalia's Election and Appeal committees Image: HANDOUT

Leadership wrangles within Somalia Football Federation threaten to derail progress made in the last five years as elections are postponed.

Claims of corruption, poor governance, ethnic and political fighting have resulted into two factions, which necessitated the intervention of the government and Congress members to stop planned parallel elections.

It took the intervention of the Internal Security ministry to halt plans to hold parallel elections, which had been scheduled for February 1 in Mogadishu at the Elite Hotel, organised by acting President Ali Abdi Mohamed.

The other faction backing Wish Haji Yabow, son to former Basketball Federation president Aden Haji Yabow, was to hold their elections at Jazeera Hotel.

At least 20 members of the Congress have accused Mohamed of plotting a 'rigged election'.

His opponents blame foreign hands in the current impasse, with Djibouti Football Federation boss Souleiman Waberi mentioned on several occasions as pushing for a Mohamed comeback.

Waberi came to the picture in Somali football affairs when he accompanied a delegation of Fifa officials to Mogadishu in February 2022.

Abdurahman Mumin, a civil society activist, accused Waberi of using his Fifa and Cecafa connections to influence the polls, saying they have organised street protests against the Djibouti official. Mohamed has been accused of plotting to rig the elections.

Ali Barre, one of the co-owners of Hilaac Club - a Series B side - has asked Fifa to intervene and save Somalian football.

An insider quoted by Dalsan Media said Fifa have invited SFF officials for possible arbitration amid the quagmire.

Football in post-civil war Somalia had seen a commendable growth in the last five years, with the Horn of Africa country priding itself with a league that includes foreign players from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon, among other African countries. Construction of world class stadia and October 2022 U-17 Cecafa win is among the achievements SFF have made.

Mohamed’s predecessor, Abdiqani Said Arab, was sacked for abuse of power in December 2021. He was accused of misappropriation of funds meant for two Fifa projects In Kismayu and Mogadishu. SFF was also accused of not backing women football, despite funding. He had been elected in 2014 and his reign was to end in 2022.

Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports suspended elections of the body that were to be held on December 28, 2022 after they received complaints from some members of football fraternity.

The ministry unsuccessfully tried to mitigate and address the raised concerns through appropriate channels. The electoral committee of the SFF bypassed the guidance stipulated in Somalia Stability Funds statutes, electoral code and overall Fifa guidance.

The world football governing body issued guidance to the SFF statutes to resolve the quagmire while the Ministry of Youth and Sports gave SFF an ultimatum for organising elections before January 30, 2023.

SFF, which is responsible for organising matches between local teams and enforcing rules and regulations of football, was founded in 1951 and is one of the national administrative governing bodies of the Confederation of African football.

It became a Fifa member in 1962. The fate of SFF leadership and that of Somalia football now remains in the 46 voting Congress members. The Congress is made up of 25 independent organisations, coaches, universities and federal state representatives.


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