November 23, 2016 / 2:35 PM / a year ago

FACTBOX-FIFA suspensions caused by political interference

Nov 23 (Reuters) - Malaysia said on Wednesday it was considering pulling out of a soccer tournament co-hosted by Myanmar to protest its crackdown on ethnic Rohingya Muslims, risking a possible global ban by the sport’s governing body, FIFA.

The following are some cases where national football federations have been suspended after falling foul of FIFA statutes which ban, among other things, discrimination or interference by national governments.

* Guatemala and Kuwait are both currently suspended by FIFA. Guatemala has been sidelined since October after a transitional FIFA-appointed committee, which had been set up to run the federation’s affairs in the wake of a corruption scandal, was “unable to operate” because local directors refused to recognise it, according to soccer’s governing body.

Kuwait was suspended in October last year because FIFA said that government legislation meant that the country’s football association and the clubs could not carry out their activities independently.

* One of the most notorious cases to pit football against international politics, although it did not involve FIFA, was in 1996 when Nigeria withdrew from the African Nations Cup, held in South Africa, in protest at South African criticism of President Sani Abacha’s military regime. Nigeria were then banned for two years by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and missed the following Nations Cup in 1998.

* In 2010, then Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan tried to withdraw the national team from international competition for two years as reprisal for their first-round exit at that year’s World Cup in South Africa. He backed down when FIFA threatened even harsher sanctions, although the saga continued and Nigeria was briefly suspended the following October.

* The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) was also suspended in 2014 after a court ordered the minister of sports to appoint a civil servant to run the federation. This again followed what was considered a poor performance at the World Cup when Nigeria were knocked out in the second round. The NFF was later reinstated after the court order was revoked.

* In 2011, the Bosnian Federation was briefly suspended because FIFA said the federation’s three-man inter-ethnic presidency was out of line with its statutes. The presidents were chosen on ethnic rather than professional criteria with a Serb, a Croat and an ethnic Muslim holding the post for 18 months each under a rotating system.

* Iraq were suspended in 2009 after FIFA said that Iraqi Olympic Committee had disbanded the country’s football association (IFA) and that governmental security forces had seized control of the IFA headquarters.

* Arguably, the most notorious incident was in 1973 when the Soviet Union refused to play a World Cup qualifier away to Chile because Santiago’s National Stadium had been used as a prison camp by Augusto Pinochet’s military government. FIFA awarded Chile a walkover which gave them a place at the 1974 World Cup. (Compiled by Brian Homewood in Zurich Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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