KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — FIFA has warned Uganda to avoid government interference in its football, another African federation to be threatened with an international ban after Cameroon was recently suspended for three weeks for political involvement.
FUFA chief executive Edgar Watson said Tuesday that the world body warned Uganda’s government in a letter, with copies also sent to FUFA and the Confederation of African Football.
“The letter said (the government) should not tamper with the current process of FUFA,” Watson said.
A Ugandan government minister wants to reform some of FUFA’s rules, while FUFA said FIFA’s warning was “the climax” of a long-running feud between the federation and the government. Any FIFA ban might affect Uganda’s place in World Cup qualifying, where the East African nation must beat Senegal away in September to make the playoffs for Brazil.
FIFA’s warning to Uganda is the latest in a catalog of problems for African football this year, where top federations have been suspended or sanctioned and match-fixing again has made headlines.
Cameroon’s football federation was suspended on July 4 for government interference following a contested election last month. Long-standing FECAFOOT President Mohammed Iya was re-elected in a landslide victory on June 19 despite being under arrest for alleged financial misconduct relating to the loss of about $19 million while he was in charge of a company.
FIFA lifted its suspension of Cameroon — Africa’s first World Cup quarterfinalist in 1990 — on Monday, but the ban had already affected the African Champions League and African Nations Championship, where games were postponed because club Coton Sport and Cameroon’s national team were not allowed to play. A temporary “normalization committee” has taken charge of Cameroon football until fresh elections.
Ethiopia, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sudan have all been forced by FIFA to forfeit games in World Cup qualifying for fielding ineligible players, throwing parts of what’s probably Africa’s most important competition into disarray.
Ethiopia had already reached the final 10-team playoffs for Brazil before it was stripped of a win over Botswana because Minyahile Beyene was suspended and should not have played. Ethiopia’s federation said officials “forgot” about his suspension. Ethiopia is now not guaranteed to progress and South Africa’s hopes are alive again.
Togo and Equatorial Guinea also have recently lost points, with those punishments by FIFA having important repercussions on two other qualifying groups.
Four amateur Nigerian clubs were banned for 10 years and all players, team officials and match officials involved banned for life for what the NFF called “scandalous” fixed scorelines in recent lower-league playoffs: Plateau United Feeders beat Akurba FC 79-0 and Police Machine beat Babayaro FC 67-0 after the teams worked out their goal tallies would be decisive in deciding who got promoted to Nigeria’s professional league.
The NFF said that one player scored 14 goals and another 11 goals in the 79-0 victory. At one point, four goals were scored in a minute and another player scored three own-goals.
South Africa, once viewed as Africa’s most stable football association, will set up an inquiry after FIFA found strong evidence of match-fixing in the host country’s warm-up friendlies for the 2010 World Cup.
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in Johannesburg contributed to this report.