Costa Rica’s first opponent in the 2014 World Cup could be in danger of losing its spot in the tournament. On Monday, the Executive Board of the Uruguayan FA resigned en masse deepening an uproar in the country that began following the decision by President José Mujica to withdraw police from local matches.
The clash between the president and the football association could lead to FIFA removing Uruguay from the World Cup if the organization sees Mujica’s decision as “interference in football affairs,” according to leading newspapers El País and El Observador in Uruguay.
“Recent events demonstrate the need to move aside and allow other political views to govern our football,” read the resignation letter from the Uruguayan Football Association headed by Sebastian Bauza.
The letter added that “football needs to make decisions and the current political and institutional conditions do not allow it to do so.”
FIFA has not yet commented on the situation, and is still awaiting an official report from the Uruguayan Football Association.
Eugenio Figueredo, the president of South America’s football government body (Conmebol), made it sound as if the Uruguayan press’ concerns could simply be overblown.
He made several statements about the issue to Reuters on Monday.
Figueredo, a Uruguayan, said he did not believe there was any risk of 2010 semifinalists Uruguay not playing at the World Cup in neighbouring Brazil that kicks off on June 12.
“I’m totally unaware (of this FIFA story). The truth is I have no news from CONMEBOL or FIFA,” Figueredo said in a telephone interview from Chile where he was on a visit. “You can’t draw conclusions from a rumour.
“When governments intervene, a national association is provisionally suspended (by FIFA)… But I have no proof the government played a part in Bauza’s exit,” added Figueredo, who heads the Paraguay-based CONMEBOL.
Costa Rica opens its World Cup against Uruguay on June 14. Costa Rica and Uruguay are joined in Group D by England and Italy.
Mujica had ordered police to withdraw from the stadiums where Uruguay’s two biggest clubs, Penarol and Nacional, play their home games in Montevideo after incidents marred Nacional’s recent match with Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys.
On Sunday, the game between Penarol and Miramar Misiones was called off at the players’ request amid security concerns at the legendary Centenario stadium
Mujica’s move to withdraw police presence from matches came after 40 people were arrested and dozens of police and fans were injured, while more than 700 seats were ripped out, at the Nacional-Newell’s encounter.
The Uruguayan Football Association and Mujica also have disputed about scheduling matches and television rights for Uruguay matches for the 2018 World Cup, and the association referred to Mujica’s latest decision as “the final straw” that led to the resignations.