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Saturday, 6 November 2010


Conflict with UEFA and FIFA and exclusion from international competition looks certain as Bosnia's soccer federation, the NSBiH, refuses to call an end to its ethnically selected tripartite presidency.
Bosnia's national and domestic teams face suspension from international compettition if the sport's national governing body, the NSBiH, refuses demands from FIFA and UEFA to elect a single president instead of the current three. A high level FIFA and UEFA delegation will attend a meeting of football's national governing body in Sarajevo today. FIFA and UEFA have repeatedly requested that the ethnically-based tripartite presidency be replaced with a single president, but Bosnian Serb football officials have vehemently rejected the demand. “It is truly sad that instead of focusing on the game we must think about things which have nothing to do with sport,” Asmir Begic, goalkeeper for the national team, told Balkan Insight. Begic, who plays for English Premier League club Stoke City, added he hoped that the NSBiH officials “will find a solution and that everything will end well.” Bosnian football officials last rejected the FIFA and UEFA request in July and were given until March 31 next year to change their mind or face automatic suspension and the imposition of an interim committee. If sanctioned, Bosnia would also lose international funding which currently makes up between 70 and 80 per cent of the NSBiH budget. The federation is made up of representatives of the football associations of the country’s two highly independent entities, the predominantly Serb Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat federation.

Bosnian Serb football officials insist they will not accept the FIFA and UEFA demands no matter the consequences. “We believe that preserving the tripartite presidency is a must…the only thing we can accept is that the Presidency rotates [between the three ethnic groups] every 16 months,” the vice president of the Republika Srpska football association, Stasa Kosarac, told Balkan Insight. “We will not back away from this request,” Kosarac added. Radmilo Sipovac, president of Borac, Republika Srpska's leading team, which currently tops the country’s Premier League table - told Balkan Insight his team “did not want to think” about the political shenanigans at the NSBiH. “We play football and the only thing we think about is how to win and become Premier League champions…it is not our job to deal with politics,” he said. Sipovac added that he hoped Bosnian teams would not be suspended from international competition because “it would be a huge loss for sport and football in this country.”
Balkan Insight