By Eldin Hadzovic
FIFA announced on Monday that Ivica Osim will head an interim committee to run Bosnian football, after the country was suspended from competition earlier this month.
FIFA and UEFA appointed Osim, who led Yugoslavia to the quarterfinals at the 1990 World Cup, head of the interim committee that was put in place after the country’s football federation, NFSBiH, was suspended on April 1.
Bosnia was punished after the football federation’s assembly refused to replace its three-member presidency – made up of a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb – with a single president.
At the meeting in Vienna on Monday, FIFA and UEFA order the interim group, also called the normalisation committee, to hold a gathering of the NFSBiH assembly by May 26, which will have to change the presidency structure.
If the assembly again fails to approve the change, NSBiH will face a one year suspension, interim committee member Elvedin Begic confirmed for Balkan Insight.
The task is not expected to be an easy one, as the composition of the NFSBiH assembly will remain the same.
The meeting in Vienna was attended by representatives of UEFA and FIFA, as well as Rudi Zavrl, Amar Osim, Dragan Kulina, Elvedin Begic, Darko Ljubojevic, Sead Kajtaz and Ivan Beus, all of whom are expected to be named as members of the normalisation committee.
Before the meeting in Vienna, Ivica Osim told Balkan Insight that he hoped FIFA would understand Bosnia’s unique position.
“I only hope that FIFA will try harder to understand our political problems, which led to this suspension in the first place,” he said.
Elvedin Begic told Balkan Insight that he was headed to Vienna to see what FIFA would officially offer.
“We have to keep in mind that we are suspended, and that we will have to follow the rules in order to participate in international competitions,” Begic said.
For years FIFA and UEFA had accepted Bosnia’s ethnically based presidency, a make-up the mirrors the country’s institutional and political structure.
Last year, however, football officials warned Bosnia’s Football Federation, NSBiH, to replace its three-member ethnic presidency with one president, but the NSBiH voted against the required change.
Serb representatives in NSBiH opposed the new statute proposed by FIFA and UEFA, claiming that it will make them lose their autonomy.
Many football officials and fans argued that a suspension punished those who backed the imposed rules, while rewarding those who openly support the national team of neighbouring Serbia.
Bosnia coach Safet Susic stated that the ban, which affects the national team, clubs, officials and referees, is “as if they have put an innocent man in jail”.
The meeting in Vienna should mark the beginning of the process of resuming Bosnia’s 2012 European Championship programme, with qualifiers scheduled for June 3 in Romania and June 7 against Albania.
Bosnia’s national football team has never appeared at a major tournament, but has made a promising start in qualifying for Euro 2012.
FIFA has said that the emergency committee’s mandate will end once a new presidency is elected in line with international football guidelines.