Response to BFV Press Release (Franconia – Raetia)

The BFV (“Bayerischer Fußballverband” – “Bavarian Football Association”) published a press release to announce that they forbid every registered player to participate in Franconia vs Raetia. Here is our respons:

Next Thursday, on the 29.05.2014, our member Franconia planned their very first match against FA Raetia, a well known team from Switzerland. The match will take place in Lohr in Franconia at 5 p.m. We at CONIFA are very happy about that match and the brilliant way it is organized with very experienced former German Bundesliga professionals playing for our member Franconia. Furthermore we are especially happy that the first match of Franconia will be a charity with the proceedings going to a local youth center. That is a role model for the world: Giving back to the local people and support your region in a triple-way, by promoting your culture in such an amazing way, strengthening your players through a new experience and supporting the local youth – our common future!

Unfortunately the BFV (“Bayerischer Fußballverband” – “Bavarian Football Association”) today published a press release to announce that they forbid every registered player to participate in that match and threat every player, coach, referee and official involved to be sanctioned by the sports justice of Bavaria afterwards. Besides that the president of the BFV, named Rainer Koch, is quoted in the major Bavarian newspaper “Main-Post” with some false argumentations against CONIFA as an organization. For that reason we see ourselves forced to openly reply on both, the press release and the false information giving by the BFV president Mr Koch, openly now.

The press release can be found in German only here. Summed up it says that any participation in organization, playing, refereeing or supporting the match of Franconia will be punished by the BFV and brought to a sports court as it is illegal according to the regulations of the BFV. According to those the BFV is exclusively responsible for organizing any “selected teams”.

In answer to that we first want to express how disappointed we are about that open threat towards the players and officials. We are especially disappointed, because we took care of a date that does not attach any of BFV’s leagues or actions and furthermore because all proceedings of the match will go to a local youth center. We always thought that the Bavarian FA, which main goal is promoting and strengthening football in Bavaria by law, should appreciate any action that supports the local youth financially and gives players from the region an additional chance during their free time.

After consulting various sport law attorneys and after similar experiences of some others of our members we are nevertheless very sure that no player, official referee participating in this match can be punished in any way. All players are playing in their free time and on their own purpose. The team is not at all an selected team, according to the BFV regulations, but a pure private team. We see no legal reason why a player should be punished for playing in its freetime and in the last 100 years of football outside the auspices of FIFA that never happened anywhere in the world. Even our other Germany-based members and members with Germany-based players never faced any similar threads or punishments before. We herewith openly address the BFV to not put any sanctions on any participating person and show their support for the footballers in Franconia and the children in the youth center in that way instead of fighting against both.

The press article including the quotes of Mr Rainer Koch can be found in German here. Summed up the article reports about the negative position of the BFV towards the charity match of Franconia against Raetia. Particularly shocking for us where the quotes of the president of the BFV, Mr Rainer Koch. He is first quoted saying „Diese Mannschaft spielt unter dem Dach der CONIFA, und die betont immer wieder, Gegenpart der FIFA zu sein“, which is translated as “This teams plays under the roof of CONIFA, which emphasizes again and again that it is a counterpart to FIFA”. This quote is especially shocking as it is the pure opposite of the truth. We again and again emphasized that we are not at all a counterpart or opposition to FIFA, but an addition. We have and had good and steady contact to FIFA itself and “they applaud our work”. In many interviews, even in German, our general secretary, Sascha Düerkop, again and again repeated how important a good relation to FIFA and its members is to us.

In addition to FIFA itself we and our members have good relations to the FIFA member FA they live in. We also did sign contracts and memorandi of understanding with a couple of FIFA members. Nearly all players of our members, many of them national players in FIFA members or professional footballers in FIFA member’s leagues, play for clubs registered in a FIFA member nation. Such an active and silent cooperation would be impossible if we would in any way see ourself as an opposition or “counterpart”, as Mr. Koch says.

Later on Mr Koch is quoted saying: „Wir haben nichts gegen eine fränkische Auswahl und Spiele für gute Zwecke. Aber dann organisiert das der BFV und nicht die CONIFA.“, which means “We are not against a Franconian selection and matches for the good cause. But if that happens, it is organized by the BFV, not by CONIFA.” We want to point out here, that we do not organize any teams. The teams are organized by our member associations, not by the umbrella organization CONIFA. Just like FIFA does not organize the Spanish national team. Besides that we want to invite the BFV to organize an own Franconian national team under the law and auspices of the BFV and apply for CONIFA membership to give their young talents the chance to meet the world.

Last but not least we want to stress that we will of course not let the BFV decide on our membership applications. Franconia, as a region, applied for membership in CONIFA, through its team organizers, and the Executive Committee unanimously found that Franconia and its people would be a very valuable member. We will not regret that decision or step back from it in any way. The opposite is true: We support every of our members and thus we fully back Franconia, its people and of course we appreciate a lot that they give back to their region by donating their proceedings.