Thursday, 2 May 2013

Inconsistent membership rules frustrate Gibraltar

This story appeared earlier at
Four French overseas territories and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten were promoted to full membership of Concacaf at the federation's recent congress in Panama on April 19. Although there are some good footballing reasons for this to have happened, it also looks like double standards. Guadeloupe have regularly qualified for the regional Gold Cup tournament and even reached the semi-finals in 2007, beating Canada and Honduras on the way.

Martinique (pictured above at the 2012 Coupe de l'Outre Mer in Paris) will feature at this summer's Gold Cup after a team featuring West Ham reject Frédéric Piquionne qualified via a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Caribbean Cup; French Guyana have also managed to qualify for the Caribbean Cup finals.

However, footballing activity in the fourth French territory, Saint Martin, is more sporadic. A team was entered into the Caribbean Cup qualifiers but lost all three games and conceded 24 goals without scoring. Saint Martin shares an island with the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten, who did not even bother entering the Caribbean Cup. In 2010 FIFA visited Sint Maarten as part of a working party on new members, led by English vice-president Geoff Thompson. The next year, a Dutch FA source admitted the football set-up there was a "mess" yet the territory is now a full Concacaf member.

That should not really be a surprise, as the Turks & Caicos Islands were admitted into Concacaf in the 1990s when there was not even a functioning football association on the British overseas territory. In 1998, the newly formed TCIFA was admitted into FIFA and has since received millions of dollars in aid.

All this will stick in the craw of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA), which was formed in 1895 and has been trying to join UEFA since 1999. After years of filibustering, this tiresome process reaches an end-game at UEFA's congress at Wembley on May 24. After Gibraltar originally applied, Spain protested and UEFA switched its membership criteria: all new members must now be in the United Nations. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has since ruled three times that as this switch was made after Gibraltar applied this was simply not on.

A previous vote on Gibraltar at a UEFA congress in Frankfurt attracted just three votes: Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. Even the English did not support the Rock's footballers, but this time should be different. In October 2012, Gibraltar were admitted as a provisional UEFA member. Since then the GFA have trekked across Europe on a very professional lobbying campaign to put forward a footballing case rather than a political one.

A 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands in 2011 and a 7-5 victory over San Marino in a UEFA futsal qualifier earlier this year helped. Gibraltar are not Europe's worst team and are hopeful of victory at Wembley. Should they be foiled again, the Gibraltarians will surely look at the outcome of that Concacaf congress in Panama City and feel doubly wronged.


simply not edible said...

I sometimes wonder if it would not be more feasible for Gibraltar to look for admission in the CAF. Is admission there stricter geographics-wise? It could provide for a solution, as they might potentially enter FIFA through the African path eventually.

Anonymous said...

Spain can say that they stop funding to the african countries that support Gibraltar

simply not edible said...

But are there really that much african countries receiving funds from Spain, though? THey have next to no colonial history on the continent.