So Belize must sit out the CONCACAF Champions League again for another year!
Because, again, not a single football stadium in the country is up to FIFA standards for an International match.
And that is after almost $2 million has been pumped into the FFB Stadium in Belmopan between March of this year and this past week when the field failed inspection and Belize was subsequently disqualified.
According to FFB President Ruperto Vicente, “For the landscaping aspect of the stadium’s renovation, Marvin Ottley was the contractor, with a budget of 152,000 U.S dollars to bring the pitch up to international standards.”
Needless to say, the contractor did not meet the deadline requirements and the Bandits, which for the first time would get to officially represent Belize as the national team, was booted out of the tournament.
Interestingly, the FFB denied having anything to do with the issuing of the contract, claiming at Wednesday’s press conference that the Federation was only the recipient of the field, but that the contract was really between FIFA and Marvin Ottley.
The facts show, however, that it was on the strength of FFB’s recommendation that Ottley was sent to Panama to do training in pitch preparation and maintenance. That act indubitably placed him at the head of the Belizean line to qualify for, and subsequently get the contract.
This Belizean futbalista, who has never before prepared a professional football pitch, was able to underbid and come out ahead of a Salvadoran and a Guatemalan company.
Not only was he able to get training just prior to an opportunity to grass a field; not only was he also able to price the work within a valid range of the other companies, but interestingly, experience was not a criteria to win the bid for Belize’s first international football stadium.
President Vicente said: “This contractor made an excellent presentation to FIFA …. His bid was one of the lower bids and so FIFA awarded him the contract.” So, it was also not the lowest bid!
But he was Belizean, and so he got the job, but failed the test, causing the entire Belizean nation to be disqualified.
Many Belizean entrepreneurs, hotels, food vendors, taxi-men and other related Belizean businesses will see their hopes dashed because fans will not get to see the games.
So for the sake of one Belizean….
Up to recently, the President of FFB was claiming at home and abroad that the pitch would be ready! But contracts don’t just operate on “the word of the contractor”.
Contracts should instead work on timelines, incremental deadlines and agreed benchmarks, Vicente told the press:
“It would be a matter of procrastination [on the contractor’s part] that caused us not to be in Champions League, and for our field not to be prepared… We have always, almost every week made complains to the contractor… telling him that we are not satisfied with the work being done and that this work needs to be fast -forwarded”
Rather than being sold false hopes, Belizeans should have been told the truth. Now, AFTER we have failed to qualify, we are being told that a known and experienced Belmopan landscaper, can complete the field and bring it up to standard in ONE WEEK! Hmmh, maybe HE should have gotten the contract, or at least the training opportunity. But that is not how FIFA and FFB work, I gather.
And why exactly did the FFB field fail? Was it because the pitch was not properly levelled?
Was it because of the many brown patches and obvious deep ruts in the field? Was it that the green turf ends right at the edge of the line? Not according to President Vicente.
“The field cannot be played on because, as you all know, it is the television companies that run the Champions League, and they would not televise on a field that has brown spots on it…too many brown spots, and the brown spots are not good for television because the Champion’s League is all about television and they want the grass to be green.” Ok! It would have been nice to see that in writing from CONCACAF.
Belizean football fans are understandably mad. The players are without a doubt disappointed.
And the owner of Belmopan Bandits says he is taking the high road and moving on.
I sure hope that holding our leaders accountable for this mess is not interpreted as “taking the low road”!
Belize is a small country with an even smaller population. Everybody knows everybody, and truth be told, these are all “nice guys” that failed the test!
But do you really want us to believe what we are seeing on the field is a result of “Due process”?!
I have a better idea to explain what we see on the field. You see, the bible says in Judges 17:6 “And everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. No rules, no laws, no principles, no STANDARDS… just do what you want!
That’s why the grass is not green, some concrete streets are cracking, many medications are substandard, novices are getting the vacancies over experts, those with connections are beating out the experienced, and development is stagnated.
The passage starts out by saying: “In those days there was no King…”
Why did it happen? Where there is LACK OF TRUE LEADERSHIP there will be lack of STANDARDS which leads to CHAOS and POOR RESULTS and in the end you get DISQUALIFIED…