It has been in the hearts and minds of Belizean football fans, since it was first announced in May, that our very own Belmopan Bandits will be representing Belize at this year’s CONCACAF Champions League. It would have gone down in history as the first time Belize is represented at this very prestigious tournament. On the 8th of May of this year, President of FFB, Ruperto Vicente, says he assured the CONCACAF officials that by the end of May Belize’s stadium would be up to international standards, in time for the 28th of May FIFA inspection. Since then, monies to the tune of 1.9 million Belize dollars have been pumped into the stadium, as FFB scrambled to meet the deadline for inspection, which was extended three times. However, despite all efforts, Belize has been booted out of the tournament due to a lack of “beautification” on the football pitch according to Ruperto Vicente.
“CONCACAF have been good to us, and so they extended the date of inspection, and agreed to come in on the 19th of June, to do the inspection. Sure enough, the inspectors came and looked at the facility, and realized that we needed more time. So, with word from the contractor doing the pitch, CONCACAF gave us up to the second of July to complete the pitch and would come back to do another inspection.
Well CONCACAF came on the tenth of August and did inspection, and certainly they were not happy with what they saw, because there were a lot of brown spots on the pitch, too many brown spots, and the brown spots is not good for television because the champions league is all about television and they want the grass to be green. We are not there yet.
So in this case, I would say that, it would be matter of procrastination [on the contractor’s part] that caused us not to be in Champions League, and for our field not to be prepared.
The field cannot be played on because, as you all know, it is the television companies that run the Champions League, and they would not televise on a field that has brown spots on it.”
So just like that, our chances to play at the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League were whisked away. On the 21st of August, the Belmopan Bandits were scheduled to play their first home game against El Salvador’s Isidro Metepan FC. It had been advertised on local media, on social media and even on some of the stores and restaurants in Belmopan. However, Belize has fallen short of FIFA Standards yet again, and though President Ruperto says there is still a small window of opportunity that Bandits will play, CONCACAF seems to have moved on. According to one article written on Wednesday in Inside World Football, Belize’s Belmopan Bandits is being replaced by Costa Rica’s Club Sport Herediano.