Football: Greenland presses for recognition

Around The World
POLITICAL CHANGES in Europe and the boom in football's popularity has led to increasing numbers of teams chasing places in all competitions, including international tournaments. Now Uefa, the game's European governing body, could gain yet another member.

Greenland, the world's biggest island which has with 3,000 players out of a population of 55,000 is hoping to be accepted into the international football fraternity, its national team coach, Sepp Piontek, has said.

"I have already asked Uefa to look into the possibility of Greenland becoming an independent soccer country," said the German, who came to international fame through his success with Denmark in the 1980s.

Greenland, which is 85 per cent covered by ice, would need to build at least one stadium with a grass pitch. The Faroe Islands, out in the North Atlantic and, like Greenland, have home rule under the Danish crown, have been members of Uefa and the game's world governing body, Fifa, since 1979.

Piontek could have coached the national team of Oman but opted to take command of Greenland, which is closer geographically to North America than mainland Europe. His two-year contract comes with a bonus if Greenland win the 2001 Island Games tournament against opponents such as the Faroe Islands, Isle of Man, Gotland and Iceland.

If Greenland does build a stadium in the capital Godthab, both Fifa and Uefa are likely to allow them to join other small nations like the Faroes, San Marino and Andorra in the international arena. Fifa has 203 member nations and Uefa 51.

The Hungarian federation has finally elected a new president, ending nine months of turmoil, which included the threat of suspension by Fifa. Imre Bozoky, a lawyer and linesman, won the vote in a second-round run- off with the other major candidate, Attila Kovacs.

Bozoky, the preferred candidate of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, later pledged to help overcome what he described as the moral crisis in Hungarian football. Kovacs was suspended as president at an extraordinary general meeting in February. Fifa perceived this incident as interference and in mid-March forced the Hungarian sports minister to reinstate Kovacs.

The dispute remained unsettled. Fifa appointed an international auditor to check the federation's books, and the audit, made public in August, revealed financial discrepancies. Kovacs called for a vote of confidence and lost. The federation had been without a president since.

Bulgaria are in danger of sliding into similar chaos after their was licence revoked and they were ordered to replace several officials by the country's Supreme Administrative Court in a ruling which, under Bulgarian law, cannot be appealed. Fifa is waiting for official word on what is going on.