WC 2014 First Round: Belize (Provisionally) Back In
Posted on July 7, 2011 1:27 pm
Montserrat’s chances of a historic appearance in a group stage of World Cup qualifying have vanished, as FIFA’s Emergency Committee have decided to temporarily lift the suspension on Belize. In their own words:
Mind you, the “positive developments” were not sufficient for the return leg of Belize’s series with Montserrat to be hosted at the FFB’s Stadium in Belmopan. As FIFA notes, the game will by necessity take place outside of Belize (most likely in Guatemala or Honduras*) before July 17. However, if the FFB fails to reconcile with the National Sports Council by August 15, then the suspension will be reinstated. Belize would then be dropped from their elementary-round group, leaving the three remaining teams to compete for the spot in the semifinal round.
Leaving aside concerns over FIFA’s selective opposition to governmental interference, I find this decision satisfactory for everyone involved (again, with the exception of Montserrat). The FFB and the new National Football Association of Belize now have just over a month to work out the differences between Dr. Bertie Chimilio and his estranged constituency, who most likely will accept nothing less than his resignation. The National Sports Council can still hold on its “nuclear option” of getting the FFB’s suspension reinstated if the football authorities refuse to register and submit to their regulation. And most importantly, the national team can continue to participate in the World Cup, in spite of all the issues at the administrative level.
Given this news, whenever FIFA announces the date and time for Belize’s “home” game against Montserrat I will be sure to include it in my upcoming entry on the second legs of this qualifying round.
UPDATE: We can drop the “likely” from the potential consequences for getting suspended again, with Jerome Valcke confirming that Belize would be “disqualified from the remainder of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.”
UPDATE2: CONCACAF has announced that the second leg of the Belize-Montserrat series will take place on July 17 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
UPDATE3: The Belizean Government has responded to FIFA’s declaration. The Ministry of Sports called bs on the assertion that “positive developments” have taken place: as far as they are concerned, the FFB has yet to register with them, therefore the FFB’s “national” side has no right to represent Belize in international competition. To that effect, the Government has this to say to the organizers of the July 17 return leg:
FIFA will predictably ignore them; but it will be interesting to see what response, if any, Honduras gives to an official demand from a “sister” nation (although not a fellow member of any Central American political or economic organization) to hold off on hosting this match.