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

Tunisia defender Dylan Bronn was sent off in the friendly against Brazil
Tunisia lost 5-1 in a friendly against Brazil last month as defender Dylan Bronn was sent off.

FIFA has warned that if the country’s government intervenes in football matters, Tunisia may be excluded from next month’s World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA member federations should be away from legal and political interference.

The warning comes after repeated comments by Tunisia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Kamel Deguiche, about the possibility of “dismantling federal offices”.

FIFA sees his statement as an attempt to interfere in the management of the country’s Football Federation (FTF) and has recently requested clarification of attempts to interfere in internal affairs and threats to destroy its office.

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

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In a letter, Kenny Jean-Marie, director of FIFA’s member associations, told FTF Secretary General Wajdi Aouadi: “Any failure to comply with these obligations may result in the imposition of sanctions under FIFA law, including the suspension of the association concerned.”

A possible ban by Fifa means that no Tunisian club or national side can play in continental or international competitions.

Next month, the 2004 African champions 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 their previous five World Cup finals appearances, and will open their campaign against the Danes on November 22.

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FIFA gave the FTF until Friday at the latest to respond on its position after the minister’s comments.

Serious accusations have been leveled at FTF in recent times, with one side of the club, Chebba, accusing the body and its president, Wadie Jary. knowingly deceived 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 torches and march through town to protest team suspension - October 2020
In 2020, Chebba FC fans burned tires and blocked the road against the suspension of the team by the FTF, which was later overturned.

Fifa is already acting this year on other cases of government interference in football, including an African couple Kenya and Zimbabwe are currently serving the suspension.

India was also banned in August for “undue third party influence”, throwing the country’s hosting of this month’s Under-17 Women’s World Cup into doubt, but Fifa India has lifted its suspension later the same month.

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Analysis by Souhail Khmira, Tunisian sports journalist

“There isn’t one particular statement that Fifa is concerned about – it’s a lot.

“Over the past few months the Sports Minister has called on the FTF to postpone the domestic league and review the start dates.

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

“The FTF saw it as a threat. That continued harassment was seen as interference, and that’s what Fifa is talking about.”

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