The Bureau of FIFA’s ruling Council has lifted the suspension of the Benin Football Federation (FBF) after the body said it had held the necessary elections required for reinstatement.
World football’s governing body voted to suspend the FBF at its Congress in Mexico City last month “due to a recent injunction by a local judicial court which impeded the holding of the due election”.
The decision, taken by the Bureau, which deals with matters requiring immediate settlement when a full convention of the Council is not possible, means the West African team have avoided being thrown out of the Africa Cup of Nations qualification stage and are free to resume their participation in international competitions.
It has not been an easy path out of exile for the FBF, however, as the elections, scheduled for yesterday, were indefinitely postponed by a court in Porto Novo.
The court upheld a complaint from 20 football clubs in Benin, who claimed the Normalisation Committee, currently governing the sport in the nation, had gone against the FBF’s statutes by organising the elections.
The ruling had raised the possibility that the sanctions would remain in place but the elections were instead held today, according to the FBF and FIFA.
FIFA conditionally removed the sanctions it had placed on the organisation earlier this week provided they held their Executive Committee elections “no later than June 11”.
“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has lifted the suspension that was imposed on the FBF on 9 May 2016 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.
“The decision has been confirmed following the FBF elective congress which was held today, 10 June 2016.
“Given the aforementioned developments, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) agreed to postpone the continental qualifier match between Benin and Equatorial Guinea from 5 June 2016 to 12 June 2016.”
The court ruling also threw the staging of Benin's crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Equatorial Guinea, who hosted the 2015 tournament, in Cotonou on Sunday (June 12) into doubt, but they will now be able to fulfill the fixture.
The CAF had postponed the Group C clash, originally scheduled for June 5, but confirmed it would be staged on Sunday providing the elections are held.
Benin haven’t qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations since the 2010 edition in Angola but remain well placed to do so this time around.
They sit second in Group C, two points behind Mali.