Mauritanian football season to kick off
By Mohamed Samba Vall Foily for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 03/09/12
Mauritania's football season will start in late October to give contestants ample time for preparation, National Football League chief Pape Amghar Dieng announced.
"The official start of the Division 1 season will be in October 2012 in line with the international calendar," he said, adding that clubs can now proceed with the permit registration process, administrative formalities and player transfers.
The season launch was initially scheduled for September 1st.
"In the past, we used to give the teams a week's notice, and that's what we want to avoid from now on by giving them the necessary time to prepare," Dieng said.
This announcement has reassured club chiefs, who were concerned about time constraints. "Most of our players are on holiday and we wouldn't have been able to get them together within such a short space of time," said Ould Rhina, the chairman of Zem Zem.
Another club chief spoke of the uncertainty that surrounds players who are not tied to a particular club by a contract. "We can't be certain of holding onto our players, because there is no contract between us and they can go to other clubs," said Taleb Moustaph Diarra, the chairman of Assaba in the east of the country, which has been promoted to the top division.
"We can't do anything when offers are made to players by certain well-off clubs," he added. The transfer market should be regulated so as to protect training clubs which only earn 50,000 ouguiyas per transfer, according to Diarra. "That's really minimal for a training club," he said.
The season promises to be a tough one for clubs which have no sponsors, especially since unlike last year, the sport ministry will not be subsidising clubs.
"The subsidy of two million ouguiyas that we received last year enabled us to make ends meet. Without it, things are very difficult for us," said M'Badj Harouna, an official at Entente de Sebkha, a team based in the suburbs of Nouakchott.
In addition to the issue of finance, this year's ban on foreign goalkeepers is another source of controversy, especially for clubs that have had Senegalese keepers for years. They include FC Nouadhibou, whose goalie Aldouma has been based in Mauritania for many years.
"It's a discriminatory decision which does not meet objective criteria," argued Abdou Fall, a fan of the club who believes that the presence of foreign goalkeepers helps to boost standards.
League officials have defended the decision and claim that it will help Mauritanian goalkeepers. "Over the past few years, we've observed that the presence of foreign goalkeepers is preventing young Mauritanian goalkeepers from coming through, and that's why we took this decision, which we feel is healthy for our football," Dieng told Magharebia.
Fourteen teams will compete in the league this season. For the first time in several years, the Mauritanian champions, T. Zeina, are playing in the African Champions League and will face a team from Algeria.
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