WC 2014 First Round: "New Dawn", Suspension for Belizean Football

Posted on June 17, 2011 3:46 pm

It goes without saying that I did not expect to write so much about Belize on The Regional Review, but once again the smallest member of UNCAF has seized center-stage.

The last time we discussed the showdown between the Belizean National Sports Council and the Football Federation of Belize (FFB), I mentioned that the former had long since lost any desire to compromise with an entity that had continually failed to register with them (to say nothing of the FFB’s alienation of every first-division club they had). So when FIFA warned the Sports Council that they were committing “governmental interference”, their reaction was a more formal version of “hell yeah, we are!”

FIFA predictably responded by suspending the FFB – the fun part of this is that the Sports Council can tell FIFA to buzz off and FIFA cannot punish them in any way whatsoever, not even through “soft power” initiatives like increasing public pressure on them to buckle (it’s hard for the average Belizean to sympathize with a national team that never actually plays “home” games in the country). As for the Belize-Montserrat series, FIFA has postponed the second leg for a date to be announced, although they have made it clear that if the conditions are not suitable for a return leg by July 10, Belize will be disqualified from the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Belizean football community is wasting no time in doing away with the maligned FFB, having formed a new National Football Association of Belize (NFAB) with the Sports Council’s blessing and having elected Michael Blease as its first president. The article claims that the process of forming the new body and the election format both fell in line with FIFA statutes; we will have to wait and see if FIFA (and CONCACAF, for that matter) decides to extend the olive branch to this new FA or if they back the incumbent FFB and bar Belize from all FIFA-sanctioned football in the near future. The Sports Council’s fine either way.

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