Police fire tear gas and beat delegates at Al Merrikh general meeting in Sudan

By Paul Nicholson

April 8 – Sudanese football has witnessed more administrative chaos in the battle for control with state Emergency Police having been called to break up the general assembly of the leading Almerrikh club.

It is a battle at club level in Sudan that has been ignited – perhaps inadvertently, but certainly without attention to potential consequences – by the power players and power seekers at FIFA and CAF.

Almerrekh is a cornerstone in the power battle in Sudan where FA president Dr. Kamal Shaddad has clung on to the FA presdiency despite his term having ended. Shaddad has been the subject of multiple FIFA Ethics complaints from his own SFA board.

FIFA had agreed a roadmap with both the SFA and the Almerrikh club towards elections to be held by the end of March 2021 – after the Confederation of African Football elections, though in itself unrelated to the Almerrikh elections.

However, Almerrikh has long been at the centre of Sudanese football politics having been founded in 1908, and having won the Sudan Premier League 16 times and Sudan Cup 14 times. It’s president Adam Sudacal, a supporter of Shaddad, was due for re-election and had been given statute breaking support by Shaddad as he fought to stay in position.

Dates arranged for elections were arranged and cancelled, on one occasion when the stadium meeting place was flooded. Eventually the Almerrekh stadium was chosen to host the club general meeting on March 27.

With fans gathering outside the meeting and chanting against the SFA president Shaddad and demanding change, state emergency police moved in firing tear gas and beating the crowd with batons.

The meeting itself could not be held at the stadium but an alternative venue was found enabling the club’s largest ever general assembly (see video) to take place with the required numbers of Almerrikh and Sudan East FA officials present to meet the statutes.

While Almerrekh has new leadership – eventually brought about by mass public protest – Shaddad still continues as SFA president.

His continuation is awkward for FIFA who have kept him in position and whose President Gianni Infantino made a special visit during his recent pre-CAF election tour of Africa where he lobbied for the installation of new CAF president Patrice Motsepe. Shaddad has been a devoted follower of the FIFA line.

Ultimately it is that Ivory Tower diplomacy and protection that sparked what ended up being a state-created violent revolution at grassroots and fan level at the Almerrikh club. A top down diplomacy for political objectives that impacted on the mass of football people in Sudan. In this case it seems the football majority has won the first – and key – battle, sending a message that will gently reverberate all the way back to Zurich and its power hungry mandarins.

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