FIFA warns Belize over government interference

ZURICH: Belize has been warned by FIFA that it could face sanctions over government interference in the country’s football federation as the national team prepare for the opening match of the 2014 World Cup qualifying competition. The Central Americans take on Montserrat in Malabar, Trinidad on Wednesday in a CONCACAF zone preliminary round first-leg tie with the return match at home on Sunday. Even if they win, Belize could be suspended at the end of the month after the country’s government said it did not recognise the local soccer federation (FFB) or national team. “FIFA is monitoring the situation regarding the Belize Football Federation very closely,” soccer’s world governing body told Reuters by email on Tuesday. “If the current situation of apparent governmental interference is not resolved by 30 June 2011, it will be referred to the FIFA emergency committee for evaluation and potential sanctions.”

It is the latest controversy involving the North, Central America and Caribbean region after the provisional suspension of CONCACAF president Jack Warner by FIFA over bribery allegations and the subsequent removal of acting president Lisle Austin for an “apparent infringement” of CONCACAF statutes. The Belize government said the FFB had failed to meet the requirements for registration with the National Sports Council. John Saldivar, Minister of Sports, said last week the government had been in contact with the world governing body.