By Andrew Warshaw
November 14 – FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura will no doubt be delighted at her native Senegal qualifying for the World Cup finals next year.
But it could be somewhat premature to uncork the champagne just yet.
With the World Cup draw scheduled for December 1 in Moscow, Samoura and FIFA face an anxious couple of weeks in terms of knowing for sure that Senegal will be in the hat.
The Senegalese may have deserved to grab a berth over the qualifying campaign as a whole and with one match to spare but they can consider themselves fortunate to have made it to Russia in the manner they did.
Last weekend’s 2-0 win over South Africa that clinched a spot in the finals was a rematch – ordered by FIFA, no doubt with Samoura’s input – of last November’s original fixture which was won 2-1 by the South Africans.
Eyebrows were raised when FIFA opted for that particular course of action following “match manipulation” by the (subsequently banned) referee. It was a ruling that infuriated not only the South Africans but also Burkino Faso, whose federation (FBF) claimed it adversely affected their chances too.
Burkino Faso promptly took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) claiming the match should never have been replayed and much interest now focusses on what decision CAS will come to – and, crucially, when.
CAS is reported to have considered the case “admissible” and says it will announce its verdict soon. Meanwhile Burkino Faso insist they are not bad losers.
“For me, Senegal is not qualified,” FBF president Sita Sangaré was quoted as saying. “In our view, FIFA was not qualified to decide to replay this match nearly ten months later! It’s just about enforcing the rules. We are not bad losers and we have nothing against Senegal.”
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