Bosnia‘s players came within a playoff defeat of reaching last year’s World Cup in South Africa [Reuters]
World football’s governing body FIFA have established a committee to take over the running of Bosnian football with the intention of resolving rifts that led to the country’s suspension from international football this month.
The normalisation committee will attempt to bring the Bosnian federation into line with FIFA’s statutes and European governing body UEFA and oversee the election of a new executive committee by the end of November.
FIFA and UEFA suspended Bosnia Hercegovina from international and European football on April 1 after the country’s federation (NSBIH) failed to adopt statutes that would lead to a single-member presidency.
The ban means Bosnia cannot play international matches – including Euro 2012 qualifiers – and the country’s clubs cannot take part in European competition or sell players abroad.
“The FIFA Emergency Committee has decided today 12 April 2011 to appoint a normalisation committee in order to solve the problems faced by the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FFBH),” FIFA said.
“After discussions with various stakeholders and following consultation with UEFA, a six person normalisation committee with football personalities from Bosnia-Hercegovina has been established and put in place with immediate effect.”
“The normalisation committee acts immediately as football federation of Bosnia Hercegovina executive committee as well as FFBH emergency committee,” it added.
Road to normality
Bosnia were suspended this month because football officials refused requests from FIFA and UEFA to elect a single president.
Like Bosnian politics, their football leadership has been ethnically split between a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb since a war in the former Yugoslav republic ended in 1995.
However, FIFA gave Bosnia a list of demands it must meet to rejoin world football.
All ties with the former football federation leadership must be cut “with regard to the decision-making in financial, administrative, sporting and other matters,” FIFA insisted.
FIFA set the panel a May 26 deadline to hold a general assembly and adopt approved statutes that were rejected at a March 29 meeting in Sarajevo which provoked the current crisis.
A new president and executive committee would then have to be elected by November 30.
FIFA ordered the panel to “take all necessary steps to further improve the financial situation” of the federation, pay all its debts and act “in full transparency”.
Bosnian football also must “improve the quality within the (federation) administration and foster the credibility and image … at national level, implementing any measures necessary as discussed with FIFA and UEFA.”
The emergency panel’s mandate will end when a new ruling executive body is properly elected, FIFA said.
After 15 years of accepting Bosnia’s difficult political and ethnic divisions, FIFA and UEFA warned football officials last year that they must modernise their rules.
Bosnian Serbs have opposed the single-presidency idea because they fear losing their autonomy.
Many Bosniak officials and fans argued that a suspension punished them, who backed FIFA’s and UEFA’s rules, and rewarded those who support the national team of neighbouring Serbia.
“As if they have put an innocent man in jail,” Bosnia coach Safet Susic said about the ban, which affects the national team, clubs, officials and referees.
Bosnia are fourth in Euro qualifying Group D, five points behind leaders France and a point behind Belarus and Albania but with a game in hand on all three.
Their next games are away to Romania on June 3 and at home to Albania four days later.
Since the 1991-1995 war, Bosnia consists of two entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serbs’ Republika Srpska.
Apart from the joint football federation, founded in 2002, each semi-autonomous half also has a federation of its own.