The suspension of the league championship because of the political tension in Senegal is making it difficult to end the season. The 30 June deadline set by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is impossible to meet if the Senegalese league and cup are to be completed, and thus the country's two representatives in the Champions League and Confederation Cup in 2023-2024.
Trouble hangs over Senegal's head as they could be left out of the draw for next season's CAF club competitions. The country of the African champions has had to suspend its sporting activities for a fortnight following the violent demonstrations it has been experiencing since 1 June. It will be difficult to make up for this delay if the Senegalese league and cup are to be completed by 30 June, the deadline set by CAF for designating the representative clubs for each federation in these club competitions.
Federation and Pro League: between worries and tricks
Contacted by Sport News Africa, Ablaye Guèye, vice-president of the Senegalese Professional Football League, made no secret of his pessimism about the situation. "The sporting season is very uncertain. In recent years, however, the calendar has been well under control. This year too, that was the case until the socio-political events that brought all sporting activities to a halt," said the LSFP's head of development and international relations. He added: "The late matches will further complicate the deadlines. As for the Senegal Cup, the situation is just as uncertain and it will be very difficult to stay on schedule.
When asked about this last week on the sidelines of the draw for the last 16 of the Senegalese Cup, the President of the Senegalese Football Federation was concerned, to say the least: "We are indeed worried that our clubs qualified for interclub competitions in Africa will be disqualified because we have deadlines to give their names and complete the licensing procedure required by CAF," he reveals. According to the rules, we have until 30 June to announce our teams. But with this postponement (of national competitions) we feel in danger", confessed Mr Senghor.
Since Wednesday 14 June, the situation seems to have become clearer, with the FSF making the resumption of competitions official. In addition, the FSF revealed that it had applied to CAF for an extension to the deadline. This has given rise to a glimmer of hope among the players. "We're delighted with the resumption authorisation, which could allow us to finish the championship on time if the waiver requested from CAF is granted," said Ablaye Guèye, vice-president of the LSFP. He added: "Now that we're talking about a designation, the FSF has a lot of options open to it. In any case, the Jaraaf syndrome must be avoided, as the standing of Senegalese football in Africa today demands that we adopt good practices.
Towards a frantic sprint
The Senegalese Football Federation and the professional league have used up several wild cards this season. "It's something we couldn't have avoided. Even if it has to be said that with the unrest, we couldn't continue with sporting activities. On the other hand, we should have given priority to the league over the two League Cup matches. The priority should have been the league", explained Talla Fall, Head of Communications at Génération Foot, when interviewed by SNA.
To give itself a chance of being on time, the FSF took the initiative by convening a meeting on Tuesday 13 June with the 4 clubs in contention for the Senegalese league title. "We were invited to fill in the forms to be submitted to CAF. They want to avoid being barred from playing", reveals the head of Génération Foot. With the lifting of the Senegalese authorities' bans on gatherings, the league should resume this weekend. "If the Federation's waiver is accepted by CAF, we should finish the championship by 15 July. As for the Senegalese Cup, with 4 rounds remaining, nothing is certain," confessed Talla Fall.
Even if CAF were to grant a derogation, there is no guarantee of a happy outcome, with 5 matchdays remaining in League 1 and 4 rounds of the Senegalese Cup to be played. The LSFP is considering playing 2 league games a week, with matches taking place in the middle of the week. Senegal, a country where over 90% of the population is Muslim, is preparing for the Eid el Kebir festival, scheduled for 28-30 June. This event is likely to force a further suspension of the championship as usual. Under these conditions, it will be difficult to see the light.
Senegalese clubs face another hurdle. Having a women's team is the other requirement imposed by CAF on all clubs wishing to take part in its club competitions. In the Senegalese football landscape, only Casa Sport and Dakar Sacré-Cœur are eligible. But a number of tricks have been devised to ensure they comply with the rules. There are many ways in which Génération Foot can comply with the rules," says Talla Fall. There are clubs in Dakar with whom we could twin up. We're already in contact with a women's club. We're very concerned about that. I'm not worried about the women's team. We'll be ready and in good shape to take part in the Champions League if GF win the championship," explained the head of communications at GF.