Tunisia’s football federation has been threatened with a suspension that would exclude its national team from next month’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar following comments from the country’s sports minister.
In a leaked letter, football’s world governing body Fifa requested information from the Tunisian Football Federation (FTF) about what it described as “state authorities’ attempts to interfere in the Tunisian Federation’s internal affairs and its threats to dissolve FTF’s office”.
“In this regard, we would like to remind you that member associations of Fifa are legally obligated to conduct their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties,” Fifa said in the letter, published by radio station Mosaique FM.
“Any failure to comply with these obligations may result in the imposition of penalties under the Fifa laws, including suspension of the relevant association.”
Fifa’s warning comes after a recent statement made by Tunisian Youth and Sports Minister Kamel Deguiche, who spoke of the possibility of “dissolving federal offices of different disciplines”, which Fifa reportedly took to mean a possible attempt to meddle in the FTF.
Fifa has asked the FTF for clarification on its stance on the minister’s comments no later than Friday.
It added that a copy of the letter had been forwarded to the African Football Confederation.
A suspension for the FTF could mean that both Tunisia’s national team and football clubs would be prohibited from participating in any regional or international tournaments, including the coming World Cup in Qatar.
The National has approached the FTF for comment.
Tunisian sports law researcher Adnen Abid told The National that Fifa’s laws are clear on third-party interference in national football federations.
“Article 19 of Fifa Statutes relating to the independence of member universities stipulates the importance that these national football federations run their affairs independently from any third-party interference,” Mr Abid said.
“Paragraph 2 of the same chapter stresses the importance of naming federation office members in a democratic manner, independent of any national authority interference.”