Benin’s top-flight football league resumed on Saturday after a two-year absence following management wrangles within the country’s FA.
President Patrice Talon and CAF boss Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar were among those who attended a league fixture involving Atlantic Sharks and US Seme-Krake.
The national championship was suspended in 2015 after disagreements between federation officials. A stop-gap league was staged last year without a formal winner.
The 2017-2018 championship will consist of 19 clubs, divided into two mini-leagues, who will share the goal of succeeding the last champions, Buffles Borgou.
International broadcasters LC2 International Afnex are assisting in organising the championship.
Benin clubs consistently struggle in CAF competitions with none reaching the group stage of the Champions League or the second-tier Confederation Cup.
Benin’s football crisis started in 2012, when differences between federation officials started emerging. At the time, the executive committee had proclaimed Victorien Attolou, the president of the federation instead of Moucharafou Anjorin, who was being accused of financial malpractice. A court decision upheld Victorien Attolou’s choice, prompting FIFA’s intervention.
The championship was then suspended in March 2015. A “transitional” championship was set up in 2016, without title of champion at the key.
On 9 May 2016 the Bureau of the FIFA Council imposed a ban the Benin Football Association (FBF) in accordance with article 16 of the FIFA Statutes for failing to hold elections within a set deadline because of a judicial ruling by a local court. FIFA would then lift the ban on 10 June 2016.
The FBF was being overseen by a Fifa-appointed normalisation committee since September 2015 and they had been tasked to organise elections.
In December 2016, Beninese President Patrice Talon then offered a mediation which enabled the creation of a “Consensual and Transitional Executive Committee”.
On Saturday 8 July at Stade de l’Amitié général Mathieu Kérékou in Cotonou, the league was officially restarted by a match pitting two favorites; the Atlantic Sharks against Sèmè-Kraké Sports Union.
*IMAGE COURTESY/FIFA.COM*Follow @Muisyo_