FIFA warns Poland on World Cup suspension

BRUSSELS/WARSAW Wed Oct 1, 2008 11:09pm BST

1 of 2. The construction site of the new Polish national football stadium is seen in Warsaw October 1, 2008. FIFA and UEFA do not recognise the administrator appointed by the Polish government to run the country's FA and Poland risks being suspended from all competitions, soccer's governing bodies said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Peter Andrews

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BRUSSELS/WARSAW (Reuters) - The Polish government must reinstate the country's football association by October 6 or risk being suspended from World Cup qualifiers, world governing body FIFA said on Wednesday.

A FIFA spokesman confirmed that if Poland was in breach of statutes after the deadline, the World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic on October 11 and Slovakia on October 15 may not take place and their opponents could be awarded a 3-0 win.

The management board of the Polish FA (PZPN) was suspended on Monday by the country's arbitration tribunal at the request of Warsaw's sports minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki in an anti-corruption drive and replaced by an administrator.

FIFA and European governing body UEFA -- whose rules do not allow government interference in the game -- said they do not recognise administrator Robert Zawlock. Warsaw was also warned it risked losing the right to co-host Euro 2012 alongside Ukraine.

"FIFA has today sent a letter...in order to stress the fact that the internationally-recognised authorities of the PZPN must be restored in the headquarters of the federation in order to be able to adequately organise the two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches," FIFA said in a statement.

"The letter indicates a deadline of October 6 at noon for those authorities recognised by FIFA and UEFA to receive full control of the Polish FA premises... The Polish FA is reminded of the potential consequences defined in case of violation of the FIFA Statutes."

TWO-DAY TALKS

Jerzy Engel, deputy head of the PZPN, said his organisation is "convinced we will be able to solve all domestic issues by Monday and the matches will take place.

"We have two days for talks. We should do our best to ensure Poland takes part in the World Cup qualifiers," he told a news conference.

"We should solve our problems within the country so as not to force FIFA or UEFA to intervene."

PZPN spokesman Zbigniew Kozminski said in a late evening broadcast that the association's authorities would meet the sports minister on Thursday to discuss the situation.

"This is a crisis situation now," Kozminski said.

Government officials reiterated that the accusations against the PZPN board were serious and could not be resolved in two days.

"As a politician, a sports fan and a lawyer, I do not believe in what PZPN is saying. They have been promising to solve this corruption mess for ages now," said Andrzej Person, senator of the ruling Civic Platform.

"And what happened? Nothing happened."

Accusations of corruption in the PZPN have been raised many times in the past and a succession of sports ministers, including Drzewiecki, have tried to oust PZPN head Michal Listkiewicz.

Poland was warned in 2007 it risked suspension by FIFA after the government appointed a commissioner as head of the PZPN in a previous crackdown on corruption.

FIFA's executive committee is expected to discuss the matter on October 22, while UEFA is to convene a meeting of its emergency panel around the same time.

(Editing by Rex Gowar)

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