Can a government ban an international football team from playing?

Ban on international football teams

Following a poor performance during the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 the government of a particular country has taken the decision to ban their national team from international football competition for a period of two years.

Why was this decision taken?

Following a poor performance in the tournament the decision was taken in order to enable the country to get their house in order. It was felt by the government that the poor performance in the tournament was not simply the fault of the players representing the country, it was down to the intrinsic problems of the way that football is governed and run in that country.

How would the government ban the team from playing in international tournaments?

When an international football team participates in international football tournaments they do so on behalf of the FIFA Member Association for that country. For example if the UK Government wished to ban the England team from playing in international competition they would do so by dissolving the FIFA Member Association for England – the Football Association.

Was this what was decided by the government of the country in the recent case?

In the recent case the government of the specific country had made the decision to dissolve the national football association of that country.

What was the reason for this?

The reason for this was so the country could effectively start again with the way it governs football. Two years was deemed the necessary time period to enable a complete restructuring of the way the sport was run in that country.

It was decided that an interim board would be put in place by the government while this restructuring took place.

Legally was the government able to do this?

The world governing body of football – FIFA – specifically prohibits any form of government involvement in football on a national basis. Accordingly the countries government making a decision on these grounds was a clear breach of FIFA’s rules.

Does FIFA have power over a national government in this respect?

FIFA runs a system of self regulation for the running of football meaning that in decisions taken on a purely football basis they have legal authority over national governments in this respect.

What action did FIFA take in this case?

The action that FIFA took in this case was that they stated that if the government did not change its decision then that country would be subject to a complete expulsion from any FIFA competition.

Wasn’t this what the government had decided?

The government had decided to simply remove the national team from international competition. However, a complete expulsion from any FIFA completion for that country would mean the following would occur:

  • Domestic clubs from that country would not be able to play matches in competitions happening outside that country
  • All financial help for football in that country provided by FIFA would stop
  • Any referees from that country would not be able to participate in international tournaments

Did FIFA hold down a complete ban?

It was deemed not necessary for FIFA to provide the country with a complete ban as the government of that country decided to change its decision at the last minute.

What was the reason for this reversal of the original decision?

The potential ban provided by FIFA was clearly one of the reasons for the reversal of the decision. However, since the president of that country had made the original decision, the countries football federation has made assurances that they will restructure the development of football in that country in order to produce a national team which will have some success.

Furthermore the top two officials from the federation were also sacked in a move to appease the president of the country.

Has there been any other instances of government intervention in this way?

Following the World Cup in 2010 another country which performed badly at the tournament was to feel the wrath of the top government officials. In this case it did not go as far as a potential ban but the president of the country stated that he would personally run an investigation into the reasons behind the country’s poor performance.

Is this in breach of FIFA rules?

This is another clear breach of FIFA’s rules. Accordingly FIFA has warned the president that it may have to take appropriate action if this investigation is put in place.

Title and Description

Government involvement in international football

Can a government ban an international football team, Ban on international football teams, reasons behind the decision, breach of FIFA rules, potential FIFA punishment, reversal of decision, why was the decision reversed, other instances of government involvement

URL: government-involvement-in-international-football