Fixing an untenable situation over soccer in Belize

Under its president, Bertie Chimillio, the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) has been running football in the country for many years and has failed to develop a team that would be competitive in the international arena.

With the current scandals taking place within the FIFA organization, it is obvious that incompetent officials were elected because of payoffs and bribes instead of their knowledge and professional expertise with the sport. More information on the scandal is yet to emerge as many countries in the world begin to investigate the actions of their FIFA representatives.

Allowing FFB to continue running football in Belize and expecting better results is wishful thinking because of their long history of failure. Jack Warner the FIFA vice-president and Mohammed Bin Hammam, were recently suspended by the league’s disciplinary committee for inappropriate conduct over an alleged U.S.$40,000 bribe paid to regional delegates to secure votes on behalf of aspiring FIFA President Mohammed Bin Hammam. If found guilty by the committee during the trial phase, they could be banned for life from any further involvement with football anywhere in the world.

The government of Belize cannot wait for FIFA to discipline their officials before they plan for the improvement of football in the country. The minster of sports must now authorize the Belize National Football Association (B.N.F.A.) to form a committee to select the best players in the country to attend football training camp.

Over the years, judging from from my own experience when I played football in Belize. selecting a national football team has always been unfair. Most of the people who were chosen to represent the country were not picked because of their abilities and capabilities; a majority of them were selected because of favoritism.

A selection committee will have the opportunity to select three of the best players for each position and send them to the training camp to compete among themselves for those positions. However, they must bear in mind that some of our country’s rated players are out of the country playing and must be allowed to meet their contractual obligations; but as Belizeans, these players should be given the opportunity to participate in the process.

I am not too sure about the new way in selecting the country’s national football team. I was told that over the years the country used the team that won the national football tournament — which in this case will be the Belize Defense Force, as the chore team and then picked other players from several teams to make up the national squad.

I am opposed to this method. and prefer when three of the best players countrywide for each position are chosen to compete against each other for the positions on the team.

Belize has six districts, with each one having a president and committee members who are familiar with the players. Among themselves they should be able to formulate the rules and regulations for selecting the best players for each position in their districts. Then, they could also consider having the fans vote for the best player for each position in the country, in order to relieve themselves from this burden, as is done in the United States for some sports.

The government of Belize will have to start soliciting funds for this project and I am more than convinced that many diehard football fans, businesses, former football players and others will be glad to contribute towards this worthy cause.

This is a golden opportunity for the minister to demonstrate how serious he is. If he waits too long, he will give the FFB the opportunity to re-group, mobilize and regain control of football, and we will return to the doomsday scenario of football in Belize.

Belizeans have been waiting too long to see a caliber football team represent their country and this is the golden opportunity they have. I am now calling on Sports Minister John Saldivar to use his power and act; because this chaos and confusion over football in Belize must come to an end if we are to have any future in this sport.

The author is a New York-based social commentator.

More from Around NYC