FIFA Delegation Coming - Is Bertie Going? Print E-mail
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Written by Shane B, Williams   
Thursday, 14 July 2011 00:00

The National Sports Council Board met on Saturday, July 9th, to review applications of two football organizations bidding to be the nationally recognized body in Belize. Those two organizations are the Football Federation of Belize and the National Football Association of Belize. The Football Federation of Belize recently failed its registration requirements to the National Sports Council and as a result is no longer the recognized football organization of Belize. FFB has long been in violation of the laws of Belize and FIFA statutes. The Minister of Sports, Hon. John Saldivar, was compelled by the football nation to clamp down on FFB and ensure that footballers have a say in football at the highest level in Belize. Many are frustrated with the FFB’s undemocratic method of selecting executive members. The dictatorship reign of the president has equalled the privatization of football in which Bertie is C.E.O. and king. After they were suspended by the National Sports Council and eventually FIFA, FFB was forced to play ball. They presented their statutes in an application to the council. After review, with the support of legal experts, the council realized several irregularities with the statutes and confirmed that the selection of executives was indeed undemocratic. Their application was rejected. The National Football Association has risen during the plummet of FFB. This association promises to be what FFB should have been. Its executive members were elected by representatives from each football districts and their first meeting saw the unification of the Superleague and the Belize Premiere Football League. Though they appear to be aligned with the principles of what a national sport organization should boast, their application was rejected because their statutes were incomplete. Therefore, currently there is no recognized national football body of Belize. This is of great concern to FIFA.

On July 7th the Minister of Sports wrote to FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, urging FIFA to “respect the sovereignty of our nation and not impose its will on our people.” This came after FIFA allowed a selection of players to play a game in Trinidad as team Belize even after the government decided not to recognize the organization, FFB, commissioning the athletes. Then again FIFA has decided to allow the team to represent Belize in an upcoming “home game” in Honduras. FIFA’s disregard of the government’s decision is complete disrespect to the country and disregard for its laws. Their decision may be liable in court. However, before the court gets involved, dialogue is often the best solution and FIFA has agreed to dialogue. According to a press release from the National Sports Council, the Ministry of Public Service, Governance Improvement, Elections & Boundaries and Sports received a letter from FIFA dated July 11th, 2011 addressed to the Honorable John Saldivar and signed by Deputy Secretary General, Markus Kattner. The letter stated that “a high ranking FIFA/CONCACAF/UNCAF delegation” will arrive in Belize on July 19th to discuss the current issues at stake with different stakeholders in football. The delegation includes Rafael Salguero, FIFA Executive Member and Emergency Committee member; Ariel Alvarado, CONCACAF Executive Member and Rafael Tinoco, UNCAF President. This was welcoming news to the Ministry as it has been a year since the Ministry invited the FFB to enter into dialogue so that the process for developing Belizean football can be discussed. 

It is not clear how receptive of government’s request FIFA and FFB will be. However, it is certain that government will not compromise its position- football in Belize needs to be governed in a democratic and transparent manner. This government has no interest in controlling the affairs of football in Belize. It has no personal quarrel with Bertie, as he would like people to believe. This government has a problem with the attack on democracy and disregard for the constitution displayed by FFB and its president. Whether Bertie leaves or not is not important; however, it is important that Belizean footballers have a say on whether or not he remains.