6 December 2018

Somalia: Football Fraternity Sharply Divided Ahead of FIFA Boss Gianni Infantino Visit

The football fraternity in Somalia is a divided house even over the running of the sport even as the country awaits for the historic visit by FIFA President.

Giovanni Vincenzo "Gianni" Infantino visit will come a few weeks after the controversial election of Abdigani Said Arab to lead the Somalia Football Federation for another four year term in office.

SFF boss Abdiqani Said Arab announced that Gianni will be visiting Mogadishu to assess FIFA projects and football state in the Horn of Africa country that is emerging from decades of civil war.

But not all are excited about this tour that may put Somalia on the footballing world map.

In an interview with Radio Dalsan on Wednesday former SFF official A. Abdale said the federation has to clean up it's house ahead of Gianni's arrival.

"SFF is in a mess. The elections were a sham. The visit will damage FIFA's reputation since it will be endorsing a leadership that was not democratically elected" Abdalu said.

Critics of the long term SFF boss claim he personally organized for the election sidelining other football stakeholders.

They term the election a "PR stunt" by Abdigani to blindfold the world football organization.

"Somalia's football is doomed as long as the SFF boss remains in office" Salma Elmi a football fan in Mogadishu told Radio Dalsan.

"Abdigani has interest in about ten football clubs out of thirty . How do you expect the elections to be free and fair when the clubs representative are part of the election? Elmi asked.

There had been allegations of corruption in the SFF under Abdigani's leadership but the football boss has brushed such claims aside as deterrent from his critics.

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FIFA has recently been pro active to end corruption in Africa football which has in the past gained a reputation for being the most corrupt continent in the running of football.

A women football player Meymuna Isse told Dalsan that SFF leadership has turned a total blind eye on the Somalia Women football which recently has gained popularity locally.

"At a time when women football has attracted many young women players it is sad that we are neglected by the federation" Isse said.

Abdigani has in the last eight years led the SFF as Chairman and Secretary General but been an official for almost seventeen years.

"This monoploy of power is discouraging many local players in the country. We need fresh blood in SFF" football fan Elmi said.

Gianni's announced visit will be the first by FIFA president in post civil war Somalia.

Gianni is expected to inspect the newly constructed SFF premises the first to be built in Somalia. Previously the federation rented offices.

FIFA's Forward Development Programme funded the project.

"This will be the first building owned by the federation in its whole history. It is being built as the SFF is benefitting from the new development initiatives created by the President of FIFA Mr.Gianni Infantino" Arab told a FIFA publication in 2017.

Somalia's relation with the world football organisation goes back to 1951.

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