Bosnia rejects FIFA statute, faces suspension
The Bosnian football federation has rejected a request from FIFA
and UEFA to cut its three presidents to one, leaving the country
facing a ban from international matches.
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s federation reflects the political setup of
the country and its ethnic division after the 1992-95 war. It
consists of two associations: One for Bosnian Serbs and another
shared by Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. Together they are headed by
a three-member presidency, made up of a Bosniak, a Croat and a
Just like in politics, the Bosnian Serbs do not agree with the
concept of one president because they fear it might jeopardize
their autonomy. All Bosnian Serb delegates and a number of Bosnian
Croats voted against the change on Tuesday.
Bogdan Ceko, the head of the Bosnian Serb association, said he
”does not feel personally responsible for this but we can talk
about a collective responsibility.”
Bosnian Serbs base their refusal on the country’s constitution
written in 1995 during peace negotiations in Dayton, Ohio. The
peace agreement ended the Bosnian war but divided the country along
ethnic lines and prescribed a three-member presidency for the
country – a setup that has proven ineffective as all three have to
agree in order to pass a decision.
The three-member football presidency and other provisions of the
Bosnian statute that did not conform to FIFA’s standards were
tolerated for years because FIFA and UEFA were aware of Bosnia’s
But last October both agencies told Bosnia that 15 years after
Dayton the transition period was over and that if the country did
not conform to the rules by the end of March it would be suspended.
Back then, the Serbs said they wouldn’t change the setup, but
proposed the three presidents rotate as chairman every 16
A suspension would effectively punish those in Bosnia who voted
for FIFA’s and UEFA’s rules and will reward those who voted against
them because people in the Serb half of the country don’t support
Bosnia’s national team. They view the national team of neighboring
Serbia as their own, and would not be unhappy to see the Bosnian
”It’s hard. I’m taking this very hard,” said Muhidin Rascic, a
Bosniak member of the federation’s executive board. ”Only I know
how much of my life I have invested into all of this and now it’s
FIFA and UEFA said Bosnia’s suspension from world football will
be triggered ”with immediate effect” if Thursday’s deadline
passes without change.
Along with suspension from international football for all teams,
a country’s officials are also excluded from international football
business, and funding from FIFA and UEFA is frozen.
The dispute threatens Bosnia’s promising prospects of qualifying
for the 2012 European Championship – which would be its first
appearance at a major tournament as an independent team.
Its next international qualifier is scheduled for June 3 in
Romania, which it beat 2-1 in Zenica last Saturday. Bosnia is
scheduled to host Albania on June 7.
The matches could still go ahead if Bosnia backs down in the
coming weeks and meets the demands of FIFA and UEFA.
UEFA said it has not officially discussed options for Euro 2012
if Bosnia cannot fulfill its fixtures.
However, the European body could yet be faced with expelling
Bosnia and wiping its results from the Group D records. That would
deny current leader France its 2-0 win in Sarajevo last
FIFA and UEFA met with Bosnian clubs last month to explain the
consequences of a suspension.
”They do not want to be victims of people who do not want to
take care of the future of football,” FIFA said on Tuesday in a
In the national league standings, Borac Banja Luka from the Serb
region has an eight-point lead and faces being denied a first entry
into UEFA’s Champions League next season if no compromise is
If the standoff continues, Bosnia also would lose the right to
attend the FIFA Congress on June 1 in Zurich, where up to 208
national associations are scheduled to vote in the FIFA
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this