FIFA bans Azampur

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Azampur Football Club Uttara has been creating headlines for the wrong reasons ever since the club reached the top tier of the country’s football. The club had faced spot-fixing allegation in the second tier of the professional league although FIFA found no proof against the allegation. The club, however, was in hot waters after being promoted to top tier.

Many articles were published in the media about the unhealthy atmosphere where the players of Azampur were kept. The club was demoted from the premier league in their very first appearance without getting a single win. They could draw only five matches out of 20 and finished the league with yet another loss against Abahani Limited.

Despite their awful situation Azampur sent Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) a letter requesting to keep them in the premier league. But the current situation is difficult for the club to even survive let alone play in the top tier. The club has already faced a ban from FIFA. Nigerian player Lukman Adefemi, who played for Azampur this year, complained to FIFA that he did not get his wages properly. FIFA set 22 May as the last date to pay him $7,800 but the club failed to comply and as a result on 10 July FIFA imposed a player registration ban on the club.

Until the dispute is settled the club cannot register any local or foreign player. Even if they play in the second tier, they cannot form a team due to the FIFA ban. BFF manager Jaber bin Taher said to Prothom Alo, “FIFA informed the BFF about the Azampur ban.’ But Azampur club president Saidur Rahman said they are trying to resolve the matter.

Azampur may face even greater cataclysm. Before the start of the season Azampur made an advance contract with three foreigners- Panama’s Rogelio Juárez Robinson, Ecuador’s Jose Luis Rivera Mina and Adrian of Colombia. But since then, they didn’t contact the players. The three players filed a complaint with FIFA. Robinson demanded $28,000 while the other two demanded $30,000 each. FIFA sent a letter to Azampur on 13 June, slapping a $88,800 fine on the club and has to pay the fine within 45 days. According to the letter, Azampur has to pay the fine by 28 July.

Azampur’s president claimed the situation is the result of misunderstandings between three foreigners, an agent and the club. He told Prothom Alo, “This has happened due to our mistake. The situation occurred due to the misunderstanding between three players, the agent and us. We had told the foreigners that we will bring them to Bangladesh for a trial and sign them if we like them. To do that, we needed to sign a pre-contract. But they did not come to Bangladesh. They are a gang, they conspired against us. As we were new to the premier division we did not realise that. Even the agent did not think they would do something like this.

Azampur president further added they only contacted the Panama player and he was supposed to bring the other two. They informed them they were coming together on the same flight. In the end, they did not come which led to Azampur getting trapped in this mess.

FIFA imposing bans or fines on Bangladeshi clubs regarding wages of foreign players is not a new phenomenon. Abahani, Mohammedan, Sheikh Russel, Saif also faced these sorts of debacles.