FIFA suspends Brunei

Jason Thomas


Thursday, October 1, 2009

INTERNATIONAL Federation of Association Football's (FIFA) yesterday announced they have suspended the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (BAFA) due to government interference in its affairs.

Chaired by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, the FIFA Executive Committee met in Brazil on Tuesday 8:30pm local time and confirmed the worst fears of football lovers across the Sultanate — that Brunei is no longer eligible to compete in international tournaments.

"BAFA was suspended due to government interference in its affairs, which started with a decision by the Brunei authorities to dissolve BAFA and to replace it with a new association in December 2008," according to a link posted on FIFA's website which outlines the key decisions reached.

"The suspension applies with immediate effect and means that Brunei club DPMM FC will no longer be permitted to play in the Singapore S-League. The suspension will run until BAFA is reinstated by the government."

BAFA was deregistration from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on Nov 15 last year for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested, but despite providing the relevant documents to get reinstated on Dec 22, the appeal was rejected.

FIFA's Director of member associations Thierry Regenass condemned the deregistration in the strongest possible terms during his third visit to the Sultanate to solve the matter in July, during which he said FIFA was willing to appoint an interm committee which had a month to reinstate BAFA - failing which the matter would be brought up to the Executive Committee.

The committee did not accept their nomination for fear of legal repercussion in representing the defunct organisation, but it is understood they are working together as an independent body to find a solution.

Regenass refused to comment further on the matter when contacted yesterday, and calls to FIFA's press office were not answered.

The news will have hit DPMM FC the hardest, but not all is lost.

During a brief visit to Brunei in February, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam — who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee — said that FIFA has given the club the authority to compete in the S-League based on the recommendation and approval of AFC.

"As for how long they can compete, on a personal level, I guaranteed their participation until the end of the season," he said

"I am not sure what will happen after that," he warned.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) issued a statement yesterday which referred to the article on FIFA's website suspending BAFA and the subsequent status of DPMM FC's participation in the S-League.

"The FAS has been informed officially by FIFA earlier this year of their approval for DPMM FC to compete in the S.League for the entire 2009 season," stated the press release.

"Regarding this latest development, FAS has yet to receive any official note from FIFA. We have since written to FIFA on an urgent basis to seek clarification and further instructions," it added.
FAS have said they will provide further updates once they receive a reply from FIFA, but with DPMM FC's next game on Tuesday, the chances of them taking to the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas against Sengkang Pungol FC look slim.

When contacted yesterday, their head coach Vjeran Simunic said he did not know about the suspension.

"I have nothing to tell, I have to see if it is true tomorrow," said a stunned Simunic.

"Nobody has spoken to me about it and this (the suspension) is very bad because I think we still have a chance at finishing second in the league," he added.

The first foreign side to win the Singapore League Cup this year, DPMM FC are 29 games into their debut season and sit fourth in the 12-team table with five games to go.

Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam, the new governing body of the sport in the country, were not available for comment.