World Cup 2022: Tunisia risk possible ban from finals in Qatar

Tunisia defender Dylan Bronn has been sent off in a friendly against Brazil
Tunisia were beaten 5-1 in a friendly by Brazil last month as defender Dylan Bronn was sent off

Tunisia could be excluded from next month’s World Cup in Qatar if the country’s government interferes in football matters, world governing body FIFA has warned.

FIFA’s member federations must be free from legal and political interference.

The warning comes after repeated comments by Tunisia’s youth and sports minister, Kamel Deguiche, about the possibility of “dissolving federal bureaus”.

FIFA considers his statement as an attempt to interfere in the management of the country’s Football Federation (FTF), and has asked the latter for clarification on attempts to interfere in its internal affairs and threats to dissolve its office.

The Zurich-based organization also reminded the FTF that member associations are “legally obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties”.

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“Any failure to comply with these obligations may result in the imposition of penalties under the FIFA laws, including suspension of the relevant association,” said a letter from Kenny Jean-Marie, FIFA director of member associations, to FTF general secretary Wajdi Aouadi .

A possible FIFA ban would mean that no Tunisian club or national sides could play in continental or international competitions.

Next month, the 2004 African champions are set to face World Cup holders France, Denmark and Australia in Group D in Qatar.

The Carthage Eagles have never made it past the group stage in five previous World Cup finals, and will open their campaign against the Danes on November 22.

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FIFA gave the FTF no later than Friday to respond on its position following the minister’s comments.

Serious allegations have been made in recent times at the FTF, with one club side, Chebba, accusing the body and its president, Wadi Jari, of Knowingly misleading the Court of Arbitration for Sport In April 2021 – before the sport’s highest legal body rules in the club’s favor later that year.

Chebba fans burn tires and block road in their city in protest at team's suspension - October 2020
In 2020, Chebba FC fans burned tires and blocked roads in protest against the suspension of the team by the FTF, which was later overturned.

FIFA has already acted this year over other cases of government interference in football, with African couple Kenya and Zimbabwe are currently serving suspensions.

India was also banned in August for “undue influence by third parties”, throwing the country’s hosting of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup into doubt, but FIFA lifted his suspension from India Later that same month.

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Analysis by Souhail Khmira, Tunisian sports journalist

“There is not one specific statement that FIFA is concerned about – there are many.

“For the past few months, the Minister of Sports has called on the FTF to postpone the domestic league and review the kick-off dates.

“At one point he insinuated that the Ministry of Sports has the authority, according to Tunisian law, to dissolve the federal bureaus.

“The FTF saw that as a threat. The constant harassment was seen as interference, and is what FIFA was referring to.”

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