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Jun 17, 2011

F.F.B. Court attempt fails to get injunction against government

Bertie Chimilio

After the press conference, F.F.B. President Bertie Chimilio headed to Supreme Court with attorney Elson Kaseke to file an injunction, seeking to have the game proceed on Sunday.  The case came up at two in the afternoon in the courtroom of Justice Minnet Hafiz. Chimilio sat ready to take the witness stand to enter into evidence the letter that was sent today from FIFA, but he wasn’t called. Apparently there was a mix-up and the government’s attorney, Magali Perdomo, though she signed receipt of documents from Kaseke, she told the court they weren’t attached. Perdomo told the court she called Kaseke’s office but never received the relevant documents that should have been attached. The court could not proceed without both parties being fully prepared, so the matter was postponed until June twenty-seventh, clearly long after the Montserrat team would be gone. It’s a loss for the local team and for football fans. The only window is that FIFA says that the game could be played before July tenth. Our news team caught up with Chimilio and his attorney as they stepped out of the courtroom.

Bertie Chimilio, President, FFB

“We had already fifty plain clothes policemen. The police deh di hustle—the off-duty policemen. When the government gets in to the off-duty policemen and affect their hustling, then something is definitely wrong with this country. We were prepared to go ahead with the match. We had enough security; a hundred security people we had prepared, but nonetheless this happened and we have to move on.”

Elson Kaseke, Attorney for FFB

The F.F.B. submitted their documents for registration with the National Sports Council—the documents which are required by law are with the National Sports Council right now.  When the National Sports Council received those documents, they then required further additional documents which are not provided for in the law and which as far as we know are not required from any other organization. So in order to be on the side of the law, the F.F.B. sought refuge in the courts and the protection of the courts. At first, we asked to court to direct the National Sports Council to consider the application for registration by the F.F.B. That was our initial application on May twenty-sixth—it’s nearly a month now. I cannot seek to explain and I will never even assume to seek to explain how the application filed in May is ending up in June without being heard—nearly a month in urgent application for judicial review seeking injunctions. I cannot explain.  There is no statute in law for which the minister can say you cannot travel to Trinidad to play football. He simply does not have that power. Under the Ministry of Sports Act and I would dare say under any other act in Belize. Now the minister was writing privately to FIFA and you saw the letter from FIFA which is very damning of the government, it is very damning.  You can quote it there; it says repeatedly that there is interference by the government of Belize. The public out there need to know that is precisely because FIFA found the government to be interfering, that matters it has come to this. But most importantly, FIFA wrote to the government alluded to the possible consequences of what might happen if the government proceeded in this head on collision course.”

Bertie Chimilio

Elson Kaseke

“Obviously we have a new Prime Minister named John Saldivar because he’s been ordering Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he’s been ordering the police now, he deals with the gas business—so we have a new Prime Minister.  I don’t know where our Prime Minister is, nonetheless I was very surprised at the power he had. And like I said earlier we just have to deal with this decision the way we have to deal with it, but this issue has to be resolved.”

Jose Sanchez

“Are you considering a friendly match for Sunday?”

Bertie Chimilio

“No, once you are suspended from FIFA, you cannot have any affiliation with that body. Mister Jack Warner is my good friend, but I cannot send him any emails and I cannot call him. If I see him pass right now, I cannot hail him. That is strictly FIFA. You cannot have any kinda relationship once you are a suspended member.”

Jose Sanchez

“In court, the government’s attorney said you didn’t hand over certain documents and that affected your case. What happened?”

Elson Kaseke

“If you saw, I showed the court signatures by the government law officers where they signed for the documents—where it clearly said that they have received the documents. All they did in court was to stand up and say we did not receive the documents. And I have proof which I showed to the court that they did receive the documents that they did sign for it. I can show you the page right now if you want to see it. There is still an emergency situation because as you know, the game has been postponed—the game has not been cancelled. There is a clear distinction between the two issues. The deadline of tenth July given by FIFA is approaching; is just around the corner. In that case, the issue needs to be resolved on an emergency basis by the Court because we are seeking the protection of the court. That is the basis of the emergency. It’s not that the game is canceled, but that the game is postponed. And we are saying that in the interim while FIFA has put everything on hold, you the court should decide the issue.”

Bertie Chimilio

“The Minister of Sports is just a pawn into this and that is the reason why we’ve had three ministers of sport. Three ministers of sports because the other two couldn’t do what they were instructed, but this next one decided he will go this far, but nonetheless, we will prevail; football will prevail.”

So tonight we can say that Sunday’s game will not take place, but what lies ahead for international football play by Belize is still up in the air.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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