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Jan 30, 2008

Government tell footballers to boycott game in Guatemala

Story PictureThe press release came out of the blue late this evening and we are still not clear on exactly what it means. Better I read it verbatim.

“The government has announced that Belize is boycotting the upcoming World Cup Qualifying football Match to be held in Guatemala City on the sixth February 2008 between Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis.

The government calls on players not to attend that game.

The Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable Said Musa, has said that to play the game in Guatemala City would be an insult to the sovereignty of Belize, especially since the game is being termed a “home” game.

Since players may be financially affected by their decision not to play, the government is calling on the private sector to collaborate with government in ensuring that players will be adequately compensated, financially, for any loss.”

(end quote)

The question, of course, is what the word “boycott” means with regard to an event which does not really involve government. Essentially what Belmopan is telling the players of the national selection is that, for patriotic reasons, they should stay home on February sixth and, if they suffer any individual financial loss, the government will be organising the private sector to cushion the blow.

It’s a major gamble for the Prime Minister and further clouds an already tricky situation, particularly for the players as well as the Football Federation of Belize.

When we called F.F.B. president Dr. Bertie Chimilio and read him the press release, his reaction was one of disappointment. He said the football match was not within government’s jurisdiction and by calling for a boycott, Belmopan was creating anarchy. Chimilio said the F.F.B. has committed to playing the game in Guatemala and that the team members were ready to give it their best. He added that the player’s financial rewards were not great but they would gain immeasurably from the prestige and exposure to international competition, particularly if Belize beat St. Kitts and went on to play Mexico. What would be punishing, according to Chimilio, is the penalties that would come from FIFA, namely a fine of forty thousand Swiss francs and compensation to be paid for all FIFA’s expenses in staging the match. Chimilio lamented what he called government’s decision to politicise football and said that he still expected the players to play on February sixth.

When asked why he agreed to have the home game played in Guatemala City in the first place, Chimilio said that with no Belizean venue approved by FIFA the only feasible choice was Guatemala.

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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