Tunisia Extends Ban on Soccer Matches

Tunisia has cancelled plans to lift its suspension of professional league matches citing ‘security reasons.’

The decision by the Tunisian Sports and Youth Ministry highlights the political sensitivity of soccer for both the region’s authoritarian regimes and governments that have come to power as a result of the wave of anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

Tunisia suspended league matches after the eruption of the protests on Tunisian streets last December. The protests forced the resignation and exile in January of President Zine Abedine Ben Ali after 23 years in office.

Authorities feared that the soccer pitch could become a rallying point initially for the anti-Ben Ali protesters and later for groups seeking to pressure the new government.

The postponement of the lifting of the ban follows the resignation on Sunday of post-revolution Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi after violent weekend protests over his ties to Ben Ali.


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