FIFA threatens to ban Portuguese teams over statutes
Lisbon: FIFA has threatened to suspend Portugal`s national sides and clubs from international competition should the country`s federation fail to approve new statutes that conform with the world soccer body`s rules.
The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) hopes it will pass the statutes in a vote on March 19, after its regional associations rejected them in previous assemblies because they feared losing influence at national level.
"Should that (approval) not be the case, the Associations Committee would refer the case to the FIFA Emergency Committee for possible sanctions, including suspension," FIFA`s media office said via email on Friday.
The suspension could put the national side`s 2012 European Championship qualifiers at risk and exclude the country`s top clubs from UEFA competitions. Porto, Benfica and Braga have qualified for the last-16 round of the Europa League.
"We are worried about the situation in Portugal. The Portuguese federation has to approve the statutes," FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters in Zurich on Thursday.
The Portuguese government, which insists on the rule changes, has already reprimanded the FPF for not resolving the problem and terminated sponsorship contracts.
The new statutes would transfer significant voting power from regional associations to the country`s leagues, players` unions, referees and coaches.
"We are making another appeal to our members` sense of responsibility on March 19, so we can avoid grave damage to Portuguese football," the FPF board said in a statement.