PtG Article 08.12.2009

More countries under FIFA monitoring for government interference

El Salvador, Samoa and Togo are being monitored by FIFA for political interference and could soon join Iraq and Kuwait in the international wilderness.

The Kuwait Football Association was given until January 31 2010 to comply with FIFA statutes separating members from political interference at last weekend’s FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Cape Town, where the suspension of Iraq was also ratified.

“The committee also examined the cases of Samoa, El Salvador and Togo, which will continue to be monitored by FIFA,” said the world body.

Iraq is the latest FIFA member to be suspended after the country’s football association was dissolved by the Iraq Olympic Committee and Samoa was also suspended only last year, when FIFA had to step in and set up a normalisation committee to administer and manage football there after the Samoa Football Soccer Federation (SFSF) ran up debts.

Former New Zealand international Colin Tuaa took over as interim chairman with Toetu Petana as vice-chairman in December 2008 and the ban was subsequently lifted.

A few days ago, the SFSF held a special general meeting with 11 of its dozen members in attendance. The SFSF announced that many of the hereditary debts have been cleared and six member clubs who refused to accept FIFA’s normalization process were also expelled.

FIFA, which has been monitoring the associations in El Salvador and Togo since September, did not expand on exactly what the issues of concern were in any of the three members under the spotlight and Samoan’s own regional confederation is also unsure. “Sorry I don’t know,” was the only response from Tai Nicholas, general secretary of the Oceania Football Confederation, on being asked why the SFSF again was under a matter of concern.

FIFA has suspended a dozen members in the past five years over signs of political interference but took no action, when in November, the Guinea football team was reportedly dissolved by the country’s minister of sports after Mamadi Souare’s team failed to qualify for both next year’s World Cup finals and the 2010 African Nations Cup.

However, FIFA did step in and threaten to ban South American World Cup 2010 qualifiers Chile on November 27 after the Chilean Football Association, the ANFP, were threatened with legal action by club side Rangers. FIFA gave Rangers 72 hours to withdraw its legal action and the club side subsequently backed down.