"Governmental Interference" Threatening Start of 2014 World Cup

Posted on June 14, 2011 5:24 pm

I was going to write about the disconnect between FIFA and the Belizean Sports Council regarding the Montserrat-Belize series that should start tomorrow night in Trinidad and Tobago. The Amandala newspaper, however, beat me to the punch, so I would like to encourage viewers of The Regional Review to read carefully this article about the Sports Council and FIFA coming to a head over the FFB’s right to represent Belize. Also, read this and this for background.

This would not be the first time that FIFA has suspended a national association because of a government’s efforts to clean out corruption – Peru suffered the same fate temporarily in 2008, having lost the right to host a CONMEBOL youth tournament over the efforts of Alan Garcia’s administration to oust FPF president Manuel Burga over corruption charges. And as much as one can understand FIFA’s desire for governments to not overrun football associations according to their own political interests (with the blatant exception of North Korea), I agree with the Belizean Sports Council that getting suspended and banned from the current World Cup is worth it, if it results in true reform at the FFB and the end of President Chimilio, who can only point to the National Stadium being brought to FIFA standard (although not for night games) to counterbalance his having alienated just about everyone in Belizean football.

Besides Belize itself, two other groups stand to gain if FIFA and the Sports Council fail to reach an agreement: Montserrat, who would automatically move on to the first group stage of World Cup qualifying in the fall; and the stat-padding forwards of every one of their subsequent opponents.

EDIT: As per the end of the Amandala article, I should point out that FIFA itself has given no indication that the first match, tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 6:00 p.m. (all times EST) in Trinidad and Tobago, will not take place, although player availability could be an issue for the FFB. Where the Sports Council could definitively shut down the national team, then, would be with the return leg scheduled for next Sunday, June 19 at 4:00 p.m. in Belmopan.

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