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Cameroon soccer suspended by FIFA for “government interference”

Jul 4, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT

FBL-CMR-SPORT-CORRUPTION Getty Images

In the wake of a scandal involving the arrest of the Cameroon FA (FECAFOOT) president and his subsequent reelection from prison, FIFA has suspended the country’s association.

Iya Mohammed was reelected as FECAFOOT president two weeks ago despite being in custody during the investigation of $19 million embezzlement claims involving Sodecoton, the state-owned company charged with overseeing the country’s cotton production.  Mohammed has been in charge of FECAFOOT since 1998.

The country’s sports minister Adoum Garoua had originally suspended the FECAFOOT presidential election back in April before FIFA intervened, threatening suspension.

FIFA will now set up its own committee to oversee the soccer governing body within the country temporarily.  The committee will be created in order to “revise the FECAFOOT statutes and to organise elections for new office bearers by 31 March 2014, at the same time as managing the daily business.”

The suspension means Cameroon are not allowed to participate in any regional, continental, or international matches, including at the club, youth, or friendly levels.  Basically, they can’t play any matches – club, international, youth, or otherwise.

FIFA says the suspension will be lifted “once the country authorities allow the new normalization committee to enter the FECAFOOT headquarters and to carry out its activities unhindered.”

Without a swift response by FECAFOOT to allow FIFA to carry out its normalizatioin process, Cameroon’s chances at reaching the World Cup could be seriously hindered.  Cameroon currently sit in 1st place in Group I of the African qualification tables, one point ahead of Libya and four points ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just one group match remains, and only the group winners advance to the knockout stage.  Cameroon are scheduled to play Libya in their final group match on the sixth of September, but if the suspension isn’t lifted by then they most likely will be forced to forfeit and would lose their knockout stage position.

The Cameroonians did receive a boost thanks to another FIFA decision today.  Having lost to Togo 2-0 at home back in the beginning of June, Cameroon were given the default 3-0 win by FIFA thanks to Togo having fielded an ineligible player.

Togo fielded Marseille midfielder Alexys Romao despite having been suspended for yellow card accumulation.  Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon and Sudan have all also received default losses during this qualification round for having made administrative errors.

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