01 June 2011

Fifa lifts ban on Brunei

Jason Thomas

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FORGET the drama. Forget the controversy. Forget the heart-break. All you need to know is Brunei is back on the map!

Fifa's annual Congress is turning out to be a ship-wreck, and its president is in the news for all the wrong reasons, but that won't matter a bit for Bruneians after the world governing body for the sport finally lifted its suspension on the Sultanate.

"The Fifa Executive Committee, chaired by president Joseph S Blatter, decided to lift the suspensions on the football associations of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FFBH) and Brunei Darussalam (NFABD, formerly Bafa) during its meeting held today, 30 May 2011 (early Tuesday morning in Brunei) at the Home of Fifa in Zurich," states a Press release on Fifa's website yesterday.

"The committee took these decisions after ascertaining that both national associations had fulfilled the conditions established by the Fifa Emergency Committee and approved statutes in line with the Fifa Statutes," it added.

Calls to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich confirmed what is turning out to be the best piece of football related news all year.

"As of now, yes," said a Fifa spokesperson when asked if Brunei is restored with full member privileges.

"They have fulfilled the obligations in Fifa Statutes and conditions defined in previous stages.

"Brunei is back because of the normalisation committee put in place in order to get the association back on track," a Fifa officer from the Media Department, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Brunei Times.

The normalisation committee, chaired by the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, received the thanks due to it yesterday.

"I, and on behalf of the affiliates of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, would like to congratulate the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) for being accepted as a member of Fifa," said BNOC secretary-general Hj Zuraimi Hj Abd Sani in an e-mail yesterday.

"As a result, the suspension enforced by Fifa for the last few years has been lifted today, Monday 30th May 2011.

"Our appreciation and gratitude goes to His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, as chairman of the normalisation committee and his team, who have worked tirelessly with Fifa in implementing the mandates set forth by the Fifa Emergency Committee.

"We wish to express our heartfelt congratulations for the job well done. Once again, congratulations to NFABD and be assured that you are most welcome to be the council's new affiliate," he added.

The e-mail should put to bed a saga which all started when the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies in November 2008 for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

It was then suspended by Fifa for government interference during its Executive Committee meeting in September 2009, and the suspension which threatened to turn into an expulsion during last June's Congress remained in effect until yesterday.

Though not recognised internationally, the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam managed to keep the day-to-day running of the sport in order, organising the national leagues as well as several age-group tournaments.

When contacted yesterday its president said that the lifting of the suspension was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come.

"We welcome the news ... let's celebrate the lifting of the suspension," Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Md Jaafar told The Brunei Times.

"We will cooperate with all stakeholders in sorting out the organisation of the domestic league in due course, but the most important thing is that we have returned to the international and regional stage which we should celebrate."The Brunei Times

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