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Benin football federation president faces legal battle over club name change

The president of the Benin football federation (FBF) is facing a potential legal battle after it was claimed a club he owns circumvented a Fifa transfer ban by changing its name.

In July, Ofmas-Sad FC – owned by the FBF president, Mathurin de Chacus, who is also a member of the Fifa council – were ordered to pay almost £9,000 in compensation to their former goalkeeper coach Tiassé Koné for unfair dismissal after a ruling from Fifa’s dispute resolution chamber. The club was banned from recruiting players in August after it refused to pay and a complaint was made to Fifa by Koné’s agents, MIG Mak International Group.

It is understood Fifa and the FBF were contacted about a possible change of name at the start of October. The name Ainonvi FC has appeared on the fixture lists released for the new season scheduled to begin on 22 October.

In a letter seen by the Guardian that was sent to De Chacus and Fifa’s disciplinary committee last week, MIG Mak International Group’s director Mawuli Avorgah raised concerns about the development and threatened further legal action.

“The owners plan to proceed with a change of name/denomination of the club and thus move on to the active recruitment of new players as if Ofmas-Sad ‘does not exist any more’,” he wrote. “We kindly ask you to implement the decision made by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee, to kindly ensure ‘zero recruitment’ of new players that the Ofmas-Sad club will attempt to carry out, whether under the current name of the club or under a ‘new name’ lent to the said club.”

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De Chacus did not respond to questions from the Guardian. A Fifa spokesperson confirmed that the transfer ban remained in place and said it would investigate if any club attempted to avoid a sanction imposed by its disciplinary committee.

“The club Ofmas-Sad FC is currently prevented from registering new players due to an outstanding debt,” it said in a statement. “The relevant ban will be lifted immediately upon the settlement of the debt being confirmed by the creditor concerned.

“Generally speaking, any potential attempt to circumvent a registration ban would be investigated and may lead to further and/or additional sanction(s) upon the club(s) concerned.”

The club, based in the southern city of Cotonou, was formerly known as Eternel Omnisports. De Chacus is understood to have taken over in 2020 and changed its name to Ofmas-Sad FC after the death of the previous owner, Firmin Aplogan, who was a member of the FBF’s executive committee. De Chacus also owns the 12-times league winners Dragons de l’Ouémé.

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There are claims from some Ofmas-Sad FC players that they have not been paid for more than four months. It is understood members of the squad held a meeting this week to discuss their options after also going unpaid for three months last year and have raised concerns with the players’ union in Benin.

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De Chacus was first elected FBF president in 2018 and promised to make a point of instilling “transparency and credibility” after the former president Anjorin Moucharafou was given a prison sentence for his role in an age-cheat scandal. De Chacus was appointed as one of the Confederation of African Football’s six representatives on the Fifa council in 2021 before being re-elected as FBF president last year.