For nearly two months now, the Mauritian Football League has been delayed due to presidential issues in the MFA (Mauritian Football Association)as well as an ongoing battle between the Ministry of Sports and the MFA over funds.
At the end of October, FIFA confirmed the national team’s withdrawal from the 2014 World Cup African qualifiers. The reason behind Club M’s withdrawal was to do with a lack of funding, the match that was scheduled for the 11th of November against Liberia would have cost the MFA 2 million Mauritian Rupees. The MFA on its own could not afford the national team to participate in the qualifiers; MFA president Vinod Persunoo offered to pay half the amount and requested the other half to be paid by the Ministry of Sport, however, this was rejected.
Many on the island view that participating in the World Cup qualifiers as a waste of money, since the team experienced heavy defeats in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers. Defeats such as the 7-0 thumping in Dakar to Senegal and losing 5-0 to Cameroon in Yaoundé, left many Club M fans feeling humiliated.
Another recent issue with regards to the Mauritian game has been the leadership at the MFA headquarters. Eight committee members protested about Vinod Persunoo’s role as MFA president, stating that Mr. Persunoo was not the right person for the job and that immediate change had to be implemented. After going through a court hearing, the eight committee members won their case, Persunoo was removed from office and Anoop Madhow was made the new president of the MFA. However, in less than a week Vinod Persunoo was reinstated as president. According to FIFA, the way in which Persunoo was removed from office went against FIFA legislation.
With all these hearings and politics involved, the past two months have therefore caused a delay in the start of the Mauritian domestic season. Last Thursday saw the start of the new season, the opening match started with Savanne SC taking on Cercle de Joachim SC.
Savanne SC started their new domestic campaign with a 3-1 win. A.S. de Vacoas Phoenix also won their debut match of the season, beating Pamplemousses SC 2-0.
Recently, there was finally some good news to talk about the island’s football situation. Six million Mauritian Rupees (about £135k) has been awarded to twenty-five clubs. The cheque was sent from the government to the MFA. The government stated that it was motivated to pump money into the Mauritian leagues as football is the favourite sport among the Mauritian population. However, it remains a mystery why the government has started to act now, when they could have funded the national team too. On the bright side, all the clubs that have been awarded this financial gain, have also recieved a lot of new equipment, including computers in order to engage in administrative issues with the MFA.
Now the government has got involved and pumped money into the island’s league and also the conflict between the MFA and the Ministry of Sport remains over. Mauritius can now build for the future, though this process will take some time, they can now look for up and coming players and concentrate on rebuilding the national team.