MIAMI (Reuters) - FIFA has suspended Belize from international soccer with immediate effect because of “severe government interference.”
World soccer’0s governing body said in a statement on Friday that its emergency committee had issued the ban.
It means the return leg of Belize’s World Cup qualifier against Montserrat, scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed.
Belize beat Montserrat 5-2 on Wednesday in the opening game of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
FIFA had warned sanctions could be on the way after the government said they no longer recognised the Belize Football Federation (FFB) or the national team.
Initially FIFA had given the parties until June 30 to resolve the dispute but suspended the FFB after the federation was told by the government that no security would be provided for Sunday’s game.
“The Belize government wrote to FIFA on 16 June saying the Belize police would “not be providing any services to the federation with respect to the security of the visiting team and officials at the match” to be played on 19 June,” FIFA said in the statement.
“Under these circumstances, and due to the interference of the government of Belize, FIFA cannot take the responsibility of letting the match take place.”
FIFA said if the match is not rearranged by July 10 at the latest, Belize would be eliminated from World Cup qualifying.
“The suspension will be in place until the Belize government reverses its decision. Any action taken by the government against the office-bearers of the FFB will not be recognised by FIFA,” said the statement.
FIFA statutes reject any government interference in the autonomy of football federations and have led to a number of conflicts and suspensions in the past.
Editing by Tony Jimenez and Pritha Sarkar