By Benjamin Fllowers
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced this week that the Belmopan Bandits will not play in the 2014-2015 Champions League because of the condition of the Football Federation of Belize field in Belmopan.
CONCACAF made the announcement on Sunday that the brown spots on the FFB field did not meet FIFA’s standards, so the Bandits would not be allowed to play.
After the announcement, CONCACAF immediately posted on its website that the Costa Rican outfit, Herediano, will take the Bandits’ place in Group 7 of the competition, to face Club Leon of the Liga MX and El Salvador’s Isidro Metapán.
The FFB held a press conference on Wednesday where its president, Ruperto Vicente, explained that the contractor hired to do the pitch for the field, Marvin Ottley, is responsible for Belize’s disqualification.
“It was a matter of procrastination that caused us not to be in the Champions League,” Vicente said.
He maintains that the FFB had made regular complaints to both Ottley and the consultant sent by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) that the work being done on the field was going too slow.
Vicente added that Ottley had a contract for US$152,000 and access to overdraft facilities from his bank, so that money was not the problem.
He also said that CONCACAF had given two time extensions to have the field prepared, moving it from June 19 to July 2, and finally to August 10.
Last November, some $1.9 million in contracts were issued to get various aspects of the field up to standard for the Champions League.As a part of those upgrades, the FFB headquarters and dormitories were upgraded.
Upgrades were also made to the bleachers. Locker rooms were installed, a referee room and even a VIP room provided. The money for the pitch to be redone was disbursed on March 5.