International Football - Struggling Bolivia face sanctions
Reuters - Thu, 16 Sep 18:17:00 2010
FIFA opened last-ditch talks with Bolivian President Evo Morales to try to save the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) from heavy sanctions over its massive debts.
FBF headquarters in La Paz are set to be auctioned and its bank accounts frozen but the meeting between soccer enthusiast Morales and envoys from the game's world governing body concluded after two hours without any concrete agreements.
"We discussed the (FBF's tax) problems in general, not concrete measures. We are talking. The meeting was very positive and we'll see what comes of it," FIFA envoy Primo Corvaro told a news conference.
The meeting was held only a few hours after Bolivia's tax authorities confirmed the auctioning next Monday of the head offices of the FBF, which has long standing debts of $2.1 million.
Morales, unhappy with the FBF and the way soccer is run in his country, had previously refused to meet with FBF directors including their recently re-elected president Carlos Chavez, who sought FIFA's help after failing to get the auction halted.
South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) director Eugenio Figueredo hinted that Morales had not backed down on his stance of not giving the FBF preferential treatment.
"There are details (of the meeting) that we can't reveal. We haven't come here to modify the structures of Bolivian law," Figueredo told reporters.
He said, however, that the meeting had managed to get discussions started on how to resolve the problems of Bolivian football, which is poorly organised, suffers from low attendances at matches and is riven with in-fighting.
"We've come to try to unify the differences that exist today in Bolivian football... We've tried to create a link between FIFA, the Conmebol, the federation and the government that will in time benefit Bolivian football," Figueredo said.
"That a government should receive FIFA, that the Conmebol should be present here and be received by the president, that's positive."
However, Figueredo evaded questions as to whether FIFA and the Conmebol could pay the tax debts of the FBF, one of the poorest federations in South America.
Bolivia, who last reached the finals in the United States in 1994, have done badly in the last four South American qualifying campaigns, never finishing higher than seventh in the 10-nation group.