Somali Football Federation Discontinues Inter-State Tourney After Government Politicizes the Sport

Somali Football Federation on Monday announced that it discontinued the Inter-State football tournament due the minister for youth and sport who has several times intervened in the sport and politicized the competition.

The decision was announced at the end of a lengthy meeting at the Somali Football Federation headquarters by the SFF executive committee and presidents of regional football associations. The SFF said in a statement that it can continue the annual tournament only if the ministry stops politicizing the sport and leaves the responsible body [the SFF] do its business freely and in accordance with FIFA, CAF and SFF statutes and regulations which all clearly indicate that sport has nothing to do with politics.

Somali Football Federation Responsibility

“Somali Football Federation is the sole national body that is responsible for all football-related matters across the country. Football is all about peace, integration, friendship, development and love. The SFF cannot accept the sport to be politicized,” Somali Football Federation said in a statement.

Somali Football Federation executive committee meeting 15 Jan 2024. Photo by Abdul Malik Muhudin
SFF executive committee meeting 15 Jan 2024. Photo by Abdul Malik Muhudin

Safety of Fans and Match Officials

The statement continued “Somali Football Federation is responsible for the safety of football players, match officials, fans and team officials. We are very sorry for the brutality and unjustifiable actions against our players and football fans who suffered from a number of violent attacks since the competition began and that is due to the event which has been politicized.”

Football Deaths

Several shooting incidents took place at stadium Mogadishu for the past two weeks in which at least two fans were killed and several were wounded. Armed men traveling with the minister for youth and sport and some government MPs have been involved in the fatal shooting incidents which left innocent football fans dead and wounded others.

The minister was several times requested by the SFF to take his armed men out of the stadium, so the fans can enjoy the games without fear, but that didn’t happen until the soldiers finally caused deaths after firing at the cheering chanting fans which led to the discontinuation of the tournament.

It is now up to the Somali government to either respect the rules and regulations of the sport. If they do not, the Inter-State football tournament, a competition that attracts the attention of tens of thousands of fans will never return.

Stadium Mogadishu full to capacity during this year's Inter State football tournament. photo by Abdul Malik Muhudin
Stadium Mogadishu full to capacity during this year’s Inter State football tournament. Photo by Abdul Malik Muhudin

Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar is the NewsBlaze Somalia reporter. Shafi’i has extensive experience in journalism, international relations, and football management. He is the founder of Somali Sports Press Association, a long-time sports journalist and a member of the International Sports Press Association.

Shafi’i has a Master’s Degree in international Relations obtained at De Montfort University in Leicester and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Multimedia journalism from the University of Northampton. The photo shows Shafi’i in action while at CAF Centre of Excellence in Cameroon.