Mauritanian clubs regain D1 status
By Mohamed Foily Samba Vall for Magharebia in Nouakchott — 11/02/10
A conflict between the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) and the country's clubs has been defused, thanks to a decision to re-instate several teams that had been relegated to D2 status.
After a marathon meeting on Tuesday (February 9th) with officials from all 12 of the clubs initially involved in the D1, the FFRIM reinstated Dar Naim, Dar El Barka and ACAST Teyarett. All three were relegated to D2 for failing to submit paperwork verifying players' ages, a FIFA requirement. FC Nouadhibou, which had halted to its D1 involvement in support of its fellow clubs, also received the green light.
The decision comes after criticism of the federation for its handling of everything from the African Cup of Nations to mustering resources for training. Nevertheless, the body's president, Mohamed Salem Ould Boukhreiss, told Magharebia that the FFRIM called a friendly meeting, not a dressing-down.
"We called together all the clubs involved in the championship and we discussed the problem, not because of pressure on us — because the federation is sovereign and acting fully within its rights — but because we were keen to find a consensus for the whole sporting family," said Ould Boukhreiss. "With the club chairmen, we decided to reinstate the four clubs for a 12-team championship."
The federation president said the championship would now continue in its normal format and that new match days were being added to the schedule to enable the other teams to catch up.
"This weekend, the championship will continue with the eight teams which have already played, and then the four teams' behind-schedule matches will be added onto these," said another federation official, Massa Diarra.
Jid Ould Abderrahmane, a chairperson of Dar El Barka, told Magharebia that "this is a fully justified return to normality", adding: "The federation made a mistake. It has recognised its error, which is a good thing, because now we can concentrate on a 12-team championship."
"We're happy this affair has come to an end, because football in our country really could have done without it," an advisor to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Sid Ahmed Ould Houssein, told Magharebia after the decision.
Magharebia on Wednesday spoke about the decision with those present at the federation headquarters.
"Thanks should go to the sports minister, who managed to convince the president of the Mauritanian Football Federation to reconsider his decision," said Club du Sahel chairman Béchir Ould Chah.
"It's a victory for the whole sporting community, who managed to reach agreement on the main points, namely allowing all our clubs to compete," he said, adding that he was calling on President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz "to ask Mauritanian businessmen to get more involved in promoting sport.".
Meanwhile, Moustapha Ould Mohamed El Welly, coordinator of the Sidi Mohamed Abbas inter-school challenge tournament, praised the path taken by the federation. "It's a brave decision by the federation, which has cast aside its pride to forgive".
For his part, Seydou Nourou Tall, a member of the federation's Qualification and Penalties Committee, said "the affair should not have gotten to this stage, because the federation should have allowed the teams time to prepare".
"There is strength in unity, and that's the lesson that club officials need to take away from this, so that they can stand up to the federation in the future, so that these officials will not walk all over their own regulations," said FC Nouadhibou chairperson Ahmed Ould Yahya.
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