Friday, 10 May 2013

No new FIFA members for the Caribbean yet

The five new members of CONCACAF are highly unlikely to be fast-tracked into FIFA membership at the world body's next Congress later this month in Mauritius.

Although South Sudan joined both the Confederation of African Football and FIFA inside six months last year, FIFA does not expect to welcome in Guadeloupe (pictured below at the 2012 Coupe de l'Outre Mer), Martinique, French Guiana and Saint Martin, or the Dutch island of Sint Maarten.

A FIFA spokesperson said: “The admittance of the 5 member associations to CONCACAF (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, St Martin & St Maarten) does not imply automatic or direct membership to FIFA. Any association seeking affiliation to FIFA must observe FIFA’s regulations related to the subject.

“The admission of football associations to FIFA is referred to in many provisions of the FIFA Statutes and in specific regulations. In particular, art. 10 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes stipulates that: 

"Any Association which is responsible for organising and supervising football in its country may become a Member of FIFA. In this context, the expression “country” shall refer to an independent state recognised by the international community. Furthermore, and as contemplated in such article, any candidate must have reached a good level of development in terms of championships, infrastructures, etc.”

Although Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana have well developed leagues, the infrastructure is less developed in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, the Dutch controlled side of the same island.

There have been some suggestions that all five islands had the support of either the French or Dutch national associations, but this is also not the case, certainly for Sint Maarten.

Saint Martin is unable to take part in the biennial Coupe de l'Outre Mer for French overseas territories or departments because the island's association was simply too slow in contacting the French federation, the FFF, after the first competition was staged in 2008. 

Instead, the tiny North American territory of St Pierre et Miquelon took the last remaining place of what is now an eight team competition, but St Pierre will not join Concacaf because traveling to matches is both lengthy and very expensive for an association with just three clubs.

Sint Maarten do not take part in the annual ABCS for Dutch-speaking teams in the Caribbean and are unlikely to either.

“The ABCS Cup is all about Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Suriname,” says Kenneth Jaliens, the manager of Suriname. “That’s why the name is ABCS.”

Surinam are not even in touch with the fledgling association on Sint Maarten. Jaliens says the Surinaamse Voetbal Bond relies on the Dutch FA for contact but the KNVB is not in touch with the Sint Maarten association.

The KNVB is working with FIFA to develop pitches at Antriol and Rincon and a mini-pitch at North Salina on Bonaire, another Dutch-controlled Caribbean island that was welcomed as an associate member of Concacaf recently and does play in the ABCS Cup, but there has been no contact whatsoever with Sint Maarten.

Johan van Geijn, international co-ordinator at the KNVB, says: “We currently have no contacts with St Maarten FA and we don’t know who’s in charge. Our last interventions were a few years ago and focused on youth.

“We do not facilitate the islands with finances. We facilitate courses and for Bonaire we have done something special with our Goal project: two new artificial fields and an artificial mini-field.”

Quite why Sint Maarten have been allowed into Concacaf is hard to gauge; certainly the other Dutch islands have no idea and the move looks increasingly like an attempt to bolster numbers ahead of a bid for more World Cup finals’ places – just the sort of ploy that Jack Warner employed in the 1990s.

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