Football’s world governing body has dished out a ban forbidding Peru from taking place in international competition.
FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter warned last week that unless a long-running feud between the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) and the nation’s government was resolved then drastic action would have to be taken.
“The problem in Peru is there is political intervention in the organization of football.” Blatter said.
He added, “The situation hurts me. It always hurts when FIFA has to intervene because of political actions.”
A butting of heads between the government and the FPF led to a statement from the South American Football Confederation (CSF) yesterday stating Peru had been temporarily expelled from international competition.
“FIFA has suspended Peru from all activity.” CSF secretary general Eduardo de Luca told reporters outside his organizations’ headquarters in Paraguay.
The dispute between Peru’s law makers and its football federation centers on FPF president Manuel Burga. Alan Garcia’s government believes Burga’s election was irregular.
This led to Peruvian government’s Institute of Sports (IPD) stepping into FPF affairs. The IPD have stated that they kept their interference to a minimum but had to act in the interest of their people.
“There is absolutely no intervention by the government. What there is, is respect for Peruvian law. He [Burga] cannot be director.” IPD president Arturo Woodman said.
He added, “If Burga’s position is going to remain the same as before… this is a dialogue of the deaf.”
For his part Manuel Burga is equally defiant that the blame for Peruvian football’s current plight should not land at his door.
“I want to apologize to the Peruvian people for the situation which we are going through. The principle problem is that Peruvian law is not compatible with FIFA statutes, and so anyone who was in my place would be in the same situation.” Manuel Burga said.
The laws which Burga refers to are FIFA’s complete non-acceptance of a country’s government flexing their muscle over its football association. A similar situation came to a head recently in Poland.
FIFA had threatened to withdraw Poland from international competition when the Polish government appointed an administrator to oversee the running of their football association (PZPN).
With Poland staring down the barrel at losing their right to co-host the 2012 European Championships the government and the PZPN worked together to hold a transparent election for a new president of the football association.
The election of Grzegorz Lato appeased the government, the PZPN and more importantly FIFA and allowed Poland to continue their qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010 and plan for their share of the 2012 European Championships.
FIFA made it clear that it would not stand for anymore funny business from the Poles and stated, “Football’s world governing body will work closely with PZPN for the good of the game in Poland.”
Peru on the other hand has already been stripped of their right to host the 2009 South American under-20 Championship as a result of the Burga saga.
This cautionary tale is the latest twist for Peruvian football which has been on the slide since the dizzy heights of Cubillas, Chumpitaz and co. Peru reached the quarter-finals of Mexico 1970 and featured again in 1978 and 1982. Sadly they have not qualified for the World Cup finals since they were last held in Spain.
Presently Peru sit bottom of the 10-team South American qualifying group with little to no chance of reaching the finals in South Africa. They will however be reinstated to compete in the remaining games and their current suspension is a mark of the tactile political game FIFA are capable of playing.
Peru’s next qualifying game does not take place until March and that gives time enough for the whole mess to blow over. Indeed Eduardo de Luca is confident the issue will be resolved at FIFA’s next executive committee meeting which takes place in Tokyo in December.
In the meantime there were blanks next the Peruvian teams in today’s draw for the 2009 Copa Libertadores (The South American Champions League).
The country’s top players also remain at loggerheads with the nation’s press and public. This harks back to an incident involving four players, including Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan, behaving with indiscipline at the team hotel following a home game.
Even though their ban has now passed, coach Jose Del Solar is yet to recall the four players to the national set-up. If English players think they have it bad with the press they should spend some time in Peru when the differences between the have and have-nots is as acute as anywhere in the world.
If a problem with bad attitude wasn’t enough, Peru has also fallen foul of having bad altitude.
Peru was dismayed at a FIFA ruling last year which prohibited games being played at more than 2,500m (8,200ft) above sea level. Peru has pulled off some remarkable results in World Cup qualifiers in Cuzco which stands at 3,400m (11,154ft) above sea level.
South American heavyweights Argentina and Brazil have both fallen foul playing at high altitude, where the thin air hands an advantage to the home side accustom to the conditions. In a kowtow to these giants of world football Blatter imposed a ban saying, “To play at above that altitude is not healthy or fair.”
However, this ban was overturned in no small measure to a 47-year-old Diego Maradona having a kick about with Bolivian president Evo Morales at an ear-popping 11,811ft above sea level in La Paz.
Evo Morales compared the ruling to a “football apartheid” but will he still be able to count on Maradona’s support when Diego arrives in Bolivia next March for his second competitive game as Argentina boss?