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FireNews : Tunisia risk possible ban from World Cup in Qatar #FireNews365

Tunisia were beaten 5-1 in a friendly by Brazil last month as defender Dylan Bronn was sent off

Tunisia could be excluded from next month’s World Cup in Qatar if the country’s government interferes in footballing matters, world governing body Fifa has warned.

Fifa’s member federations must be free from legal and political interference.

The warning comes after repeated comments from Tunisia’s Youth and Sports Minister, Kamel Deguiche, about the possibility of “dissolving federal bureaux”.

Fifa consider his statement an attempt to meddle in the running of the country’s football federation (FTF), and has asked the latter for clarification about attempts to interfere in its internal affairs and threats to dissolve its office.

The Zurich-based organisation has also reminded the FTF that member associations are “legally obligated to conduct their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties”.

“Any failure to comply with these obligations may result in the imposition of penalties under the Fifa laws, including suspension of the relevant association,” said a letter from Kenny Jean-Marie, Fifa’s director of member associations, to FTF general secretary Wajdi Aouadi.

A possible Fifa ban would mean no Tunisian club or national sides can play in either continental or international competitions.

Next month, the 2004 African champions are set to face World Cup holders France, Denmark and Australia in Group D in Qatar.

The Carthage Eagles have never gone past the group stage in five previous World Cup finals appearances, and will open their campaign against the Danes on 22 November.

Fifa has given the FTF no later than Friday to reply regarding its position following the minister’s comments.

Serious accusations have been levelled at the FTF in recent times, with one club side, Chebba, accusing the body and its president, Wadie Jary, of knowingly misleading the Court of Arbitration for Sport in April 2021 – prior to sport’s highest legal body ruling in the club’s favour later that year.

Chebba fans burn tires and block the road into their city in protest at the team's suspension - October 2020
In 2020, fans of Chebba FC burned tyres and blocked roads in protest at the team’s suspension by the FTF, which was later overturned

Fifa has already acted this year over other instances of governmental interference in football, with African pair Kenya and Zimbabwe currently serving suspensions.

India were also banned in August because of “undue influence from third parties”, throwing the country’s hosting of this month’s Under-17 Women’s World Cup into doubt, but Fifa lifted its suspension of India later the same month.

Analysis by Souhail Khmira, Tunisian sports journalist

“There is not one specific statement that Fifa is concerned about – it is many.

“Over the past few months the Minister of Sport has called on the FTF to postpone the domestic league and review kick-off dates.

“At one point he insinuated that the Ministry of Sport has the authority, according to Tunisian law, to dissolve federal bureaux.

“The FTF has seen that as a threat. That constant harassment was seen as interference, and is what Fifa has been referring to.”

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