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Aug 14, 2014

Minister Herman Longsworth Says CONCACAF Decision is Final…

F.F.B. President Ruperto Vicente remains in the hot seat tonight, after formally announcing earlier this week that Belize will not be able to participate in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League Tournament.  Despite a massive investment and significant progress in the renovation of the stadium in Belmopan, the Bandits, winners of the 2014 Premier League of Belize Cup, are ineligible to compete in the regional games, since the most important part of the face-lift did not meet deadline.  The pitch at the F.F.B. Field is still patchy and, notwithstanding the installation of proper lighting, locker-room facilities and a skybox, all the hype surrounding this year’s regional outing has been deflated.  Earlier today, we spoke with Minister of Youth and Sports Herman Longsworth who told News Five that there is very little government can do at this point in time.  Isani Cayetano was n Belmopan and has the following story.

 

Ruperto Vicente, President, Football Federation of Belize

“Yes I am not happy with the decision made by CONCACAF.  I am disappointed, I am not satisfied with it alright, but we are still fighting for our position even though the announcement has been made by CONCACAF, we’re still trying.  The prime minister of this country is still trying as well in order for us to get our spot back in the Champions League.”

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Herman Longsworth

The disappointment of not qualifying to participate in the 2014 Champions League is a letdown that continues to resonate across the sporting community.  Despite the Belmopan Bandits emerging victorious as the elite team in the Premier League of Belize, it has ceded its place to Costa Rica in the regional tournament, due to a renovation contract that is yet to be fulfilled.

 

Herman Longsworth, Minister of Youth & Sports

“I’m disappointed, that is my position and we need, people need to appreciate and I have kept saying this ever since becoming minister, football at this level is to be managed and moved by the federation, not by the Government of Belize.  So we don’t assume any leading role at this level.  We believe that our role is to ensure that we impact on as many as our young population as possible and that is where we are putting our emphasis.  The football at the elite level is the responsibility, as far as we are concerned, of the F.F.B.  We assist where we can.  We do.  We won’t leave them out on their own but we assist where we can but they ought to lead.  I’m saying that just to clear the air for those people out there who may wonder why government has been taking this back bench, you know.”

 

Notwithstanding improvements that have been made to the existing stadium in Belmopan, Team Belize is still shy of meeting the requirements of CONCACAF; international standards that are firmly upheld by football’s global governing body FIFA.

 

Ruperto Vicente

Ruperto Vicente

“We are closer to participating in the Champions League now than we were two years ago.  Our locker rooms are complete, they are ready and I will invite the media to visit those facilities this morning.  The bleachers are ready.  The VIP is going to be ready as of tomorrow because the seating for it is coming from Mexico.  So those are going to be ready.  So we are closer and we are in a better position now to participate in Champions League than we were a couple years ago or two years ago when we took office here at the Football Federation of Belize.”

 

In the wake of the exclusion, fingers are being pointed in all directions beginning with contractor Marvin Ottley, a long time football aficionado, who has fallen short of delivering the project in time for the Bandits to compete for the coveted title.  Minister of Sports Herman Longsworth shares his position on the matter.

 

Herman Longsworth

“I won’t get into any back and forth where that is concerned.  I have already said that in my opinion, football at this level ought to be the responsibility of the F.F.B.   The field that was not ready was the F.F.B.’s field, not a government field, not another field, not a private sector field.  It was the field that was the responsibility of the Football Federation of Belize.  That is the field that wasn’t ready.”

 

F.F.B. President Ruperto Vicente rationalizes the failure to meet deadline.

 

Ruperto Vicente

“The contractor started on time.  There was some delays with the monies coming from FIFA to the contractor because the monies don’t come to the federation and that needs to be understood because people have the perception that the monies is given to the federation and the monies, the federation then gives the monies to the contractor.  No.  The money goes directly from FIFA to the contractor’s account so we don’t have anything to do with the money.  There was a delay, about four weeks delay, but even with that to continue the work we worked with the contractor, myself along with the Honorable John Saldivar, spoke to his bank and the bank gave him an overdraft facility to continue the work.  So the work could have been completed.”

 

As previously mentioned, Vicente is lobbying to have Belize reinstated in the tournament, however, that’s not a prospect that seems at all possible at the moment.

 

Herman Longsworth

“I don’t know.  The government stands prepared to assist if it can but I don’t know that there is anything that the government can do.  You have to understand the whole politics of these international bodies, they pretty much refuse to dialogue with governments for the most part.  They deal with their affiliated bodies.  So I don’t know what we can do, we certainly can’t get the field ready in time.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

News Five spoke with contractor, Marvin Ottley, late this afternoon. He said that there are a lot of issues that he is currently dealing with and declined an interview because he does not want to jeopardize the contract with FIFA. Ottley said he will make a public statement whenever the pitch has been completed. 

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2 Responses for “Minister Herman Longsworth Says CONCACAF Decision is Final…”

  1. steven says:

    i mi think that with Chimilio out of FFB things would change. First impressions count, so Ruperto…you failed there buddy!!! Now its the blame game…. Money spent….zero results….so what is different from this than what Chimilio did for so many years…to me.. not a thing…so sad for football in Belize. It is sad because we have hundreds of football players who assume that the Belize FFB will take care of them…this is a good wake up call……..

  2. So Sad says:

    Another fiasco in Belize sports. This is the consequences of putting incompetent to people to run affairs.This guy seems so limited, just listen to the way he articulate himself. Two million dollars and this is what they produce ? This field is not fit for the Village Cup ,much less an international tournament.Ruperto keep insisting he could make this work.He is really out of touch with reality.Typical in Belize,everyone try to get a position just to full their pockets ,and it’s the Belizeans that looses out at the end.

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