Dispute disrupts Senegal’s African Cup plans

The Senegalese Football Federation has broken off contact with
the country’s sports ministry in a dispute that threatens to throw
the team’s preparations for next month’s African Cup of Nations
into chaos.

Federation president Augustin Senghor said the national football
body had decided to halt communications with the ministry after the
bodies clashed over coach Amara Traore’s new contract and the
budget for the squad to prepare for the tournament, which kicks off
in a month.

”The federation has stopped all written or verbal exchanges
about the African Cup of Nations and the contract of the national
coach, Amara Traore, with the Ministry of Sports,” Senghor told
reporters on Thursday.

Senghor added the federation had told coaching staff to delay
the naming of an initial squad for the Cup of Nations, which was
due on Tuesday, because of the standoff. Senegal’s warmup matches
against Sudan and Tunisia were also unlikely to go ahead.

Traore, whose contract expired on Dec. 15, is seeking a pay rise
from $11,500 a month to around $23,000 in a new deal but his salary
is yet to be cleared by the ministry, meaning the team is
effectively without a coach four weeks away from the
tournament.

The federation also sent back the $200,000 given to it by the
government to prepare for the African Cup, saying it wasn’t
enough.

”That amount of money is under the budgetary expectations,”
Senghor said.

The Ministry of Sports said the $200,000 was just an
advance.

Senegal has hopes of challenging for its first African Cup of
Nations title in the Jan. 21-Feb. 12 tournament in Gabon and
Equatorial Guinea. The Teranga Lions were drawn in Group A with
co-host Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Zambia.