Tunisia is preparing to start its World Cup in a complicated extra-sporting context, driven by conflicts of interest within the federation and a questioning list of players.
“I have made the decision never to wear the national jersey again, as long as Wadii Jari remains the president of the FTF. » These words, released on the airwaves of ShemsFM, are signed Saad Bguir. The midfielder was indeed to be included in Tunisia’s list for the World Cup. Present during the entire preparation course carried out in Saudi Arabia, the person concerned thus fell by the wayside at the last moment. “Especially since the coach, until yesterday Sunday, asked me to prepare to participate in the opening match against Denmark… I did not understand what happened, and how his decision may have changed. » The shelving is legitimately difficult to take, as is the lack of arguments arising from it. “The coach came to inform me of the decision to remove me from the list. When I asked him for explanations, he only told me “Allah ghaleb Saad” (“it is the will of God”) » he explains.
The story of Saad Bguir can therefore only be an exception. Because listening to the person concerned, we quickly guess a heavy climate within the Tunisian federation. “The president of the federation has not spoken to me so far, nor have my teammates. » An evocative silence, coming to draw the outlines of a suspicious mode of operation within the FTF. Thus, as implicitly mentioned by Bguir, several of his teammates should not have ended up on the list. In question ? Premiums supposedly allocated by FIFA, to each club of the Tunisian championship sending a player to the World Cup. Information to be taken with a good dose of conditional and difficult to verify, which would however justify, for many local observers, certain choices.
This scenario has also already been observed during the 2018 World Cup. In December 2017, before flying to Russia, the federation had indeed signed the same agreement with FIFA, thus providing for the payment of bonuses compensation to Ligue 1 Pro teams. Today, many are the rumors to evoke the use of a similar system. Main point of contention: the presence of Aymen Mathlouthi, 38 years old and second goalkeeper of the Etoile du Sahel. Having played only four games since the start of the season, and when he announced that he wanted to retire last year, here is the veteran called up as “fourth goalkeeper”, in the home stretch.
Today, if the link with alleged bonuses seems much more difficult to establish, Saad Bguir’s speech has at least had the effect of shedding light on a serious problem. The national radio IFM thus revealed the non-convocation of Oussama Haddadi, side of Greuther Fürth, at the end of a fantastic scenario. The former DFCO would indeed have received several messages confirming his presence in the selection, before the documents were deleted. This situation, Dylan Bronn would also have been close to knowing herwithout the intervention of Wahbi Khazri and Ellyes Skhiri, having lobbied the delegation for the Salernitana defender to travel.
A thorny context, which Jalel Kadri, the coach, would have done well without, and which caused a great reaction. At the head, Aymen Abdennour, overwhelmed by shortcomings from which Tunisian sport cannot break away. “Shame on you, what you are doing is outrageousbegan the defender of Rodez with 53 selections, in a video published on social networks. You preferred to sacrifice guys who play in the French Ligue 1 or in other European championships like Turkey (Khaoui from Clermont and Ben Ouanes from Kasımpaşa, Ed)to take players who do not even have the professional level. You have privileged your personal interests to the detriment of this magnificent Tunisian selection, it is scandalous! »
Aymen Abdennour’s message on the list and Tunisian football. pic.twitter.com/eHhCPX5Ykb
“Wesour?? (@noussourTN) November 14, 2022
If Haddadi, Khaoui or other absentees still wanted to support their teammates and coach through various press releases, the trend is totally different with regard to Wadii Jari and his management team. Already pinned down by FIFA because of recent political interference within it, the FTF does not seem to be of any service to its players or supporters, and reinforces, conversely, the unfortunate reputation dragged by many African selections to the dawn of a great tournament. Facing Denmark, Khazri, Msakni, Sliti and Ben Slimane saved the day by regaining control on the field. For the Eagles to resume their flight.
By Adel Bentaha and Maxime Della Guardia