Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017. 8:40 a.m. CST.
By Glenn Tillett:…Between these lines …
On Saturday some owners’ representatives and some executive members of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) met in Belmopan to discuss voting in next weekend’s Football Federation of Belize (FFB) president and vice president elections. My reports are that the majority vote was in favour of Verdes owner Sergio Chuc. John Saldivar, the owner on record of the league dominating Belmopan Bandits had publicly endorsed Chuc 2 weeks ago on Facebook. Along with Bandits and Verdes, the league is also comprised of BDF FC and Police United, as well as Dangriga’s Wagiya, Placencia Assasins, Toledo’s Paradise Freedom Fighters and San Pedro Pirates. Their published statutes also list Belize City’s FC Belize, Orange Walk’s Juventus, San Felipe Barcelona, and World FC as member clubs. Reportedly the execs at the meeting decided not to make a formal public announcement of their plan to endorse and vote en-bloc for Sergio Chuc perhaps in the hope of avoiding questions as to the legitimacy of their process. Saldivar and Chuc teams dominate the league and will play for the championship next weekend. The men, the former is Belmopan’s area representative and a Cabinet minister, the latter a ranking official of the governing United Democratic Party, are essentially politicians.
Chuc’s pitch to the league allegedly are promises and pledges to bring the FFB to the PLB’s heel, to use the FFB largesse of its annual grant from FIFA to help the PLB’s long-ailing and worsening financial situation, and reputedly to use “FIFA” monies to build a “5 star hotel” on the FFB’s 14 acre property in Belmopan. PLB executives have consistently complained that the FFB tries to dictate to them. A few years ago, the relationship between the pro league and the Federation ruptured and was only repaired after the PLB was suspended, it suspended play, and was reformulated. The relationship has remained tense.
The PLB wants a larger vote in the FFB congress. At present, it has 6 of the 20 votes, a substantial bloc but it is not enough in their view. They see the associations who have the other 14 votes as amateurs and mostly dysfunctional due to incompetence and corruption. They seem to think they could do a much better job of spending the FIFA millions.
But if Sergio Chuc is elected president both the FFB and the PLB would face grave challenges and serious scrutiny. His candidacy does come with a question mark, and his election would attract a heretofore unseen level of scrutiny from FIFA, which is undergoing a transformative reform process. It is a fact that the PLB itself as an association member of FFB, does not appear to have made any steps to bring its practice in line with what FIFA has directed its confederation and federation members to do. The annual operational grant of hundreds of thousands of dollars by FIFA to the FFB has been the proverbial golden goose and “we” have squandered its’ golden eggs for the most part, if the measure is the dismal state of football here. A misstep at this point could kill that golden goose.
You do not have to be knowledgeable about the game or the politics of the administration of the game to reasonably conclude that the dominance of Belizean politicians will be looked upon with ‘askance’ by FIFA. You can reasonably conclude that our politicians do not have a sterling reputation of fiduciary responsibility as stewards of public trust. There is no good reason to think that an owner and executive of a financially failing pro league with no plans but many promises, will not only right the FFB ship but will sail it straight if we are to use the PLB’s own lack of transparency, accountability, vitality, and profitability as a measure of competence. The ascension of anyone who’s been part of the Federation’s history of incompetence and corruption, as well as someone who has obvious partisan political ties, to the FFB presidency will compound the Federation’s bid for respectability and credibility with FIFA and the favor of public opinion.
And the most urgent item on the Belize football agenda is ensuring that the process of reform started under Marlon Kuylen’s tenure as acting president of FFB is not only continued but completed. Belize is teetering on the edge, walking chalk line as the old folks would say, with FIFA and the risk that it could be suspended and lose funding is high. FIFA has approved but not allocated or dispersed over $8 million for Belize over the next 4 years but it is conditional on the reform of the Federation and its members.
Just a year ago FIFA suspended the Guatemalan Football Association (FEDEFUT). Unless the FFB makes the right choice next weekend, and does what it has been asked and tasked to do by April 2018, it faces the real possibility that the same will happen to it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
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