ZURICH (AP) — FIFA provisionally suspended Cameroon's football federation on Thursday in fallout from the re-election last month of its president, who was arrested for alleged financial crimes in his business career.
The suspension could prevent Cameroon playing a key World Cup qualifier on Sept. 6 against Libya, and affect club team Coton Sports resuming its African Champions League campaign on July 20. FIFA said its emergency committee imposed the provisional suspension on Thursday because of government interference in the federation (Fecafoot).
"The FIFA statutes oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties," the world governing body said in a statement. Typically when governments seek to exert influence, FIFA threatens or imposes suspensions as a short-term measure to protect elected football officials.
While suspended, a country's teams and officials cannot take part in international matches and meetings, nor receive FIFA funds. The Cameroonian president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou, did not take part in the vote, FIFA says.
FIFA said it will create a panel to run Fecafoot and hold elections by March 31. "The suspension will be lifted once the country's authorities allow the new normalization committee to enter the Fecafoot headquarters and to carry out its activities unhindered," FIFA said.
FIFA said it will work with CAF to appoint members of the interim panel. Longstanding Fecafoot leader Mohammed Iya is being investigated for alleged mismanagement while in charge of the state-owned cotton company.
Iya was arrested at a Yaounde hotel on June 10 after being implicated in mismanagement and embezzlement while he was managing director at the Cotton Development Corporation, which state auditors say resulted in it losing about $19 million from 2005 to 2010.
Iya has led Fecafoot since 1998 but has come under pressure after the former World Cup quarterfinalist failed to qualify for the past two Africa Cup of Nations. Cameroon leads its 2014 World Cup qualifying group by one point from Libya by virtue of a FIFA disciplinary decision also announced on Thursday.
FIFA awarded Cameroon a 3-0 victory by default over Togo, whose 2-0 victory in a June 9 qualifier was overturned because it fielded an ineligible player. Cameroon and Libya are scheduled to play on Sept. 6 to decide which team advances to a final playoff round.