PtG Article 28.05.2010

FIFA lifts suspension on El Salvador

FIFA has avoided an embarrassing change of officials for next month’s World Cup by lifting a suspension on El Salvador.

The Central American nation was suspended earlier this month for political interference. Although El Salvador’s footballers have not qualified for the World Cup, referee Joel Antonio Aguilar and assistants William Torres and Francisco Zumba are due to officiate in South Africa and would also be banned in the event of the suspension being in force when the tournament kicks off.

“As the two conditions set by FIFA have been met, the FIFA Emergency Committee today 27 May 2010 lifted the suspension of the Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol (FESFUT) with immediate effect,” said FIFA in a statement yesterday.

FESFUT has been a member of FIFA since 1938 but was suspended after a row with the left-wing government of El Salvador led by President Mauricio Funes.

Non-recognized normalization committee

Last July, FESFUT’s chairman Rodrigo Calvo quit, and a normalization committee was set up to look into the group’s affairs.

Normalisation committees have been set up at other FIFA members after financial problems, such as Samoa, which was also recently suspended, but Funes’ government refused to recognize this new commission, prompting FIFA to impose a suspension.

FESFUT were given until June 8 to resolve the issue or face a blanket ban that would have stopped Aguilar, Torres and Zumba officiating in South Africa.

“If the Salvadoran authorities do not revise their position … the FIFA executive committee will be obliged to propose to the FIFA Congress that (the El Salvador federation) be suspended,” said FIFA after suspending El Salvador.

Temporary recognition prevents exclusion 

El Salvador have not qualified for the World Cup finals since 1982 but are one of only 30 countries to supply referees and the prospect of a high profile exclusion of its officials produced a rapid response from Funes’ government. Within 10 days, an accord had been reached.

"It is with much pleasure that I will hand over the [FESFUT’s] ministerial accord of registration so that Salvadorean football can resume its course," government Minister Humberto Centeno told a news conference according to news agency Reuters.

The government’s recognition is only temporary, lasting until July 31 but the agreement also involves FESFUT holding an assembly before this date to vote in a new board of governors.