FIFA orders new elections for FFB Print E-mail
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Written by Shane B. Williams   
Thursday, 04 August 2011 00:00

On Tuesday, August 2, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) ordered the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) to organize a Congress before the end of September 2011 in order to approve new FIFA confirmed statutes; approve new FIFA confirmed electoral codes and elect an Electoral Commission and an Electoral Appeal Commission. It also states that FFB must organize new elections before December 10 of this year. That process is to start at the district level where each football district is to hold elections to select their district representatives for the executive elections in December.

The meeting where FIFA made the declaration took place in Belmopan between Hon. John Saldivar and his team including CEO in the Ministry of Sports, David Gibson; Director of the National Sports Council, Patrick Henry; Chairman of the National Sports Council, Allan Sharp; National Sports Council Secretary, Deon Sutherland and National Sports Administrator, Ismael “Miley” Garcia. The FIFA/UNCAF delegation included Stephanie Markwalder, Deputy Head of Corporate Legal Affairs Division of FIFA and Rafael Tinoco, UNCAF President. They were accompanied by BernaldinoPech, Vice President of the Football Federation of Belize.

The “beef” between the Football Federation of Belize and the National Sports Council has been in the media for months and covered from all possible angles. We have heard FFB’s story. We have heard Sports Council and the Ministry’s story and we have even heard some of the players concerns. However, what about those who have been left behind- those who loved football as much as any other and were as good as any other?

Many football players, coaches, managers and fans have been forced to turn their head from the game in Belize because of the way the game was hijacked by a Chimilio led FFB. Some are plagued by heavy hearts because they love the game so much but can’t stand to step foot inside a stadium to watch. They are haunted by the reality that though the game looks so beautiful on the field she lives in an abusive home subject to the will of one man- a man so egocentric and insecure that he cannot stand the idea of another looking at her, loving her. The scars of these broken hearts are seen on the players that had a dream to form a pro team some years ago but were suspended by FFB for no rational reason. They would have been the first ever pro team from Belize but their dream was trampled. The scars of these broken hearts are seen on the many who dreamt of holding decision making positions in Belizean football to inject ideas of growth to the game they love. Instead they were struck down by the iron fist because football in Belize is for one man and no other. This man’s firm grip and power over football caused all others to fear him. The most powerful men in the country would not dear cast a challenge.

One man had the testicular fortitude to mount such a challenge. Upon being appointed Minister of Sports, the Hon. John Saldivar acted bold in declaring, “I want to ensure that our footballers have a say in the affairs of the sport at its highest level in Belize.” His words were laughed at and his warnings ignored. Even star footballers were fearful at what might happen because of such a challenge. However, Minister Saldivar was determined and confident in the support he had from his colleagues in Cabinet. The National Sports Council demanded that FFB submit statutes in conformity with the principles of democracy and transparency- values in which its parent organization, FIFA, also claims to embrace. FFB displayed the true depth of its bravado by ignoring the Council’s demands and basically challenging them to do something about it. The Council did exactly that and suspended the FFB’s membership privileges. Therefore, FFB could not use the facilities of the Council and FFB could not represent Belize as the recognized football body. This was again ignored by FFB and FIFA as well. FIFA allowed FFB to a field a team “Belize” despite Government’s wishes. The Government then called on FIFA to respect the sovereignty of our nation or we would have to explore other measures available to us. Eventually, FIFA agreed to dialogue. In Meetings held between FIFA, FFB and the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry was able to present findings of a Commission of inquiry into the affairs of football which exposed the undemocratic practices of the FFB executive body. That meeting led to FIFA’s decision which forces FFB to uphold democratic principles. 

In speaking with Minister Saldivar he explained that FFB is now going through the process of redrafting its statutes as well as electoral codes to be in compliance with FIFA statutes. This is being done with the assistance of Stephanie Markwalder. He added that he is happy with FIFA’s position and is confident that with the new mechanisms in place, football can now be moved forward through the football community. As for those who had already been organizing themselves to head up a new organization, Hon. Saldivar expressed his confidence that they will be able to fit into the new organization of football.

The decision by FIFA is a victory not for the Minister of Sports; not for the Government of Belize but for generations of footballers who felt that they were robbed of a chance to be a part of or witness the true heights of football in Belize. This decision has placed the ball at midfield and there is an equal distance to goal and an equal chance to score. Footballers across the country have an opportunity to decide the future of football in Belize. Players need to get in contact with their clubs and vote for a representative at the district level. This is an opportunity that should not be wasted. If Chimilio wins in an open and fair election then he may truly be god of Belizean football.