Tuesday, February 06, 2007Nogomania.com, the biggest Slovenian football website:
Scandal after scandal
Macedonia hired Srecko Katanec as coach… Macedonian national team playing great… 0:0 in England… Macedonia in the top 50 on the FIFA ranking list…
You must have reacted: “WOW, the Macedonian football has improved a lot”, or maybe even: “What a good work by the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM)”. Yeah, I know you’ve reacted like that and I know that everyone outside of Macedonia and everyone who’s far from the reality in Macedonia have reacted like that and have the best opinion about the current situation of the football in Macedonia.
But what actually is going on in here? Hmmm… Where should I begin? Do you have time? How many pages I’m allowed to use for this column?
OK, I’ll try to be short. I’ll go back in 2004, 13th October, Andorra – Macedonia 1:0. No, it’s not a typing mistake, the match really ended with 1:0. Yes, Andorra won. In the country where a hotel worker, baker, police officer… are playing for the NT, they have only one single win in the whole history of the football played there. Can you imagine the shame? The only win in the history of Andorra is over Macedonia. And only couple of weeks later the reports came that one bookmaker from Asia and one from Portugal have bankrupted after huge amount of money staked on the big odds for Andorra’s win over Macedonia. Hmmm… What actually was going on there? No one knows and no one will know and nothing will be ever proven. No one actually saw that match. Strange but the national TV had no live coverage for that match and the next day we only saw a video of the goal.
Let’s skip the other smaller scandals that happened in between and move to the near past. I don’t want even to start about the situation of youth football in Macedonia or the lower leagues. The quality of the Macedonian First League is on very low level so you can imagine what happens in the lower leagues and there’s no program or plan for advancement of the youth schools and youth players.
We all knew in what miserable situation are the domestic competitions but couple of weeks ago we all got shocked when the government’s labor inspection body reported that 7 out of 12 clubs did not have a single player registered as a professional player although all players in the Macedonian First League are playing professionally. The players are instead playing illegally, they do not have contracts and the clubs are not paying social insurance for them. Normally the FFM has given up taking action against the clubs because to be effective they would have to close down almost all of the clubs. But the question here is on what basis did the FFM give licences to the clubs for playing in the European competitions. For example in the most famous Macedonian club Vardar, the inspectors discovered that there are only 10 people employed and all of them are coaches and the club has no contracts with players and wages and social insurance hasn't been paid since January 2006. But still FFM gave Vardar a license so they can play in European competitions. Pobeda (owned by FFM’s president Haralampie Hadzi-Risteski) has only 6 employees and no one of them is a player. They have 22 players, 4 of them are foreigners and all are without professional contracts. Wages and social insurance hasn't been officially payed since 2002 at Pobeda… If only UEFA knew what kind of clubs are playing in their competitions…
But this was just a beginning of the shocks that the Macedonian football fans “survived” in this period. Only the next day the daily sports newspaper “Makedonski Sport” revealed that the Secretary General of the FFM Lazar Mitrevski was employed on his position with fake diploma from faculty. Than, trying to escape from this he made even bigger criminal acts by destroying his fake diploma and placing a new diploma (from lower education level) into his records. But normally all this was discovered by the Macedonian police and now they have pressed charges against him.
But wait, the scandals didn’t stop there. In the next few days again “Makedonski Sport” revealed another big scandal. FFM have ordered 4500 football kits with false PUMA (FFM’s official sponsor) trademarks from a sports equipment factory in Prilep (the home town of FFM’s president).
The Macedonian police decided to investigate the cases and they closed down and searched the FFM offices on 15 January and questioned some of its managers for hours at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A week later UEFA and FIFA wrote the Macedonian Minister of Internal Affairs complaining that Macedonia had violated the principles of autonomy that applies throughout the sports movement. But couple of days later they all got it clear that the Macedonian police is just chasing criminals and the president and the secretary general are not immune.
On of those desperate moves for salvation by the leadership of the FFM was the support from Srecko Katanec. I don’t know how they managed to manipulate him but in the first days of the scandals Srecko Katanec gave his support for the leadership of the FFM and said that he will leave the Macedonian NT if the current leadership leaves FFM. But couple of days later Katanec got it all clear and saw who he’s dealing with and he “soften” in his statements by saying that he’s not well familiar with the situation in FFM and he didn’t care so much and he’s concentrated on his job with the NT.
Finally on February 01, the secretary general resigned. Mitrovski said he was quitting to protect the federation but we all know that the FFM can’t be protected any more. Changes in the FFM must come and it must happen sooner! People who care about the Macedonian football have already started taking action and an initiative committee for changes in the FFM was formed. Former Macedonian football players, referees and coaches form the committee and they work for immediate changes and saving the football in Macedonia.
As I said changes in the Macedonian football must come sooner because “the thing” that is currently played on the stadiums in Macedonia and organized by the Football Fakers of Macedonia (FFM) can’t be called football at the moment.