JOHANNESBURG, March 18 Bamako-based clubs Djoliba and Onze Createurs became the first casualties of FIFA's suspension on Mali after they were stopped from playing in African club competition on Saturday and effectively disqualified.
Both clubs had leads from last weekend's first leg matches at home in the second round of Africa's secondary club tournament, with Djoliba 2-0 up over Egypt's Al Masry and Onze Createurs having a single goal advantage over Rayon Sports from Rwanda.
The two clubs had already set off for their return matches in Ismaili and Kigali but were barred from playing after FIFA banned the west African country on Friday, the Confederation of African Football confirmed in a letter to the Mali Football Federation.
The ban comes after Mali's sports minister Housseini Amion Guindo sacked the executive committee of the country's football federation, in violation of FIFA regulations that member FAs must be able to manage their affairs independently without government interference.
The decision means that Mali, placed 61st in the world rankings, cannot be involved in any international activity of any kind until the dispute is resolved to the satisfaction of world football's governing body.
"The suspension will be lifted once ministerial decisions are nullified and the executive committee of FEMAFOOT and its president, Boubacar Baba Diarra, is reinstated," said FIFA.
There is a very fine dividing line in African countries between governments and football federations, who often depend heavily on the sports ministry for funding.
The rule is a controversial one as it means that national governments are powerless to intervene in their country's football federation even when they suspect cases of mismanagement or corruption. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Sudipto Ganguly; email@example.com; +27828257807; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)