Bosnia's players came within a playoff defeat of reaching last year's World Cup in South Africa [Reuters]

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina has been suspended from international football and European club competitions after its football federation failed to replace its three-member presidency with a single president.

The leadership of the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina reflects the tripartite presidency of the country, in which power is shared between the country's Muslim, Serbian and Croatian communities - a legacy of the peace deal which ended the former Yugoslav republic's bloody civil war in 1995.

But football world governing body FIFA and European confederation UEFA had demanded that the federation name a single president by a March 31 deadline.

On Friday, FIFA said the federation had "lost all of its membership rights with immediate effect and until further notice".

"FIFA and UEFA deeply regret that this decision had to be taken and will meet shortly to discuss the next steps required to try to bring [Bosnia] back into the football family as soon as possible."

The ruling means Bosnia may not be allowed to continue playing its qualifying matches ahead of the 2012 European Championships. The country is due to play Romania on June 3 and retains hopes of reaching next summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine.

Bosnian club sides would not be able to enter UEFA's Champions League or Europa League competitions unless the suspension is overturned ahead of the beginning of the new season in July.

But federation secretary general Jasmin Bakovic said the situation reflected wider political problems in Bosnia.

"We are simply a part of the general society and [the federation] is just a mirror image of the state," Bakovic told Reuters. "In this country, if you don't meddle with politics, then politics will meddle with you.

"The worst-case scenario would be to have the suspension extended until the end of the year and that would certainly have catastrophic consequences."

Bosnia have never qualified for a major tournament, but they came within a playoff defeat by Portugal of reaching last year's World Cup in South Africa.

Source: Al Jazeera and Agencies