Mali asserts right to reform soccer body in face of FIFA ban

Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:50am GMT

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali will reform its national soccer authority and not be swayed by its suspension by FIFA, the sport's governing body, Minister of Sport Housseïni Amion Guindo said in an interview published on Sunday.

FIFA blocked Mali from international football on Friday after Guindo sacked the executive committee, following allegations of fraud during a leadership election last year. He then appointed a provisional committee and ordered the election of a new executive committee within one year.

The decision means the West African country, which stands at 61 in FIFA's world rankings, cannot play international matches, including World Cup qualifiers, until the dispute is resolved to FIFA's satisfaction.

"We are a sovereign state, which can not accept to be dragged around by a sporting body, however powerful it is .... Mali also has the right to enforce the rules in its country," Guindo said in an interview in the official newspaper, L'Essor.

Guindo said the government respected international conventions and was appealing the decision, but its main priority was to find credible people to run its federation.

"We understood that FIFA will not be the solution to this crisis and so as an act of sovereignty we decided to dissolve the governing body of the Malian Football Federation," he said.

Djoliba and Onze Createurs, two clubs based in Bamako, the Malian capital, were prevented from playing in African club competition on Saturday and effectively disqualified .

FIFA says its member football associations must be able to manage their affairs independently without government interference.

The rule is controversial because it means governments are powerless to intervene in their country's football federation even when they suspect mismanagement or corruption. In addition, African governments often fund their federations.

(Reporting by Adama Diarra; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Larry King)

Mali national soccer team players pose for a photograph before the start of their Group D soccer match against Cameroon of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Malabo January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
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