The debt with two Spanish coaches that threatens to leave Equatorial Guinea without a World Cup

  • Miguel Ángel Pozanco and Esteban Becker have been waiting four years for the collection of their compensation due to the apparent laziness of FIFA, responsible for their execution

  • The African federation is threatened with expulsion from the Qatar World Cup, but in November it could run out of sporting options to qualify

This is the story of an odyssey that seems to have no end, that of two Spanish coaches, Esteban Becker and Miguel Angel Pozanco, who have been trying for four years to collect what belongs to them in the face of the apparent passivity of who should pressure, as the decision-making body, to do so: FIFA. The Equatorial Guinea Football Federation (FEGUIFUT) owes both an economic amount that jointly exceeds the Two millions of euros between the debt itself and the interest generated by its non-payment. In essence, the evident conflict of interest that implies that an organization (FIFA) is responsible for ensuring the payment of a debt that one of its members (FEGUIFUT) has contracted with a third party (Becker and Pozanco). And that also acts as a television operator, broadcasting through its channels qualifying matches for the Qatar World Cup 2022 that Equatorial Guinea would have already disputed if any of the three alleged ultimatums that it had received in recent months had been fulfilled.

As you may have known THE PERIODIC OF SPAIN, the latest of those ultimatums, decided by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee last week, grants within a month to FEGUIFUT to pay the debt, under the threat that his men's team will be eliminated from the qualifiers for Qatar 2022 that he is currently contesting. A capital and potentially historic event for the African team, which has never played in the final phase of a World Cup.

Equatorial Guinea will be eliminated in sports if it loses against Tunisia on November 11

It seems a forceful measure but it is not so strong, because it is most likely that, when that period of one month expires, Equatorial Guinea will already be eliminated in sports. Right now she is second in her qualifying group, behind Tunisia, which is three points ahead of him. Only the first one advances to the next phase and, in the event of a tie on points, the Tunisians now have an advantage of eight goals over his rival. In other words, only a Tunisia debacle would allow Equatorial Guinea to stay alive and have the need to pay its debt to Becker and Pozanco.

Sports law experts consulted by this newspaper agree that the sanction is late, potentially ineffective and deficient. "May have also sanctioned FEGUIFUT with participation in future competitions if he does not pay off his debts with the coaches before, without linking the incentive to do so to an imminent sporting result, incomprehensibly he has not done so, "says one of them. The match between Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia next November 11th In Malabo, in short, it acquires a dimension that goes beyond sports.

Relationship since 2012

This story begins in June 2012, when FEGUIFUT hires Becker, born in Argentina and living in Madrid for almost three decades, to take charge of its senior women's team. Just five months later, Equatorial Guinea prevails in the Africa Cup disputed in the own country. "We spent two months of concentration in a five-star hotel in Germany, playing friendlies against teams such as Ajax, PSV or Bayer Leverkusen & rdquor ;, recalls the coach, with whom this newspaper has contacted to explain his version , exposing the economic strength that the federation exhibited then.

Becker won the women's Africa Cup and reached the men's semi-finals

Three years later, the FEGUIFUT abruptly breaks with Andoni Goikoetxea, then absolute male coach, and entrusts that position to Becker after the merits acquired at the head of the female squad. That happens a few days before the start of the Men's Africa Cup, which is also held in Equatorial Guinea, after Morocco resigned from its organization due to the Ebola crisis. The Equatorial Guinean team, classified at the last minute as hosts, breaks all odds and reaches the semifinals of the championship. “I have two national hero medals, one for the 2012 victory and one for that 2015 & rdquor; result,” says the coach.

When Becker goes to the men's team, Miguel Ángel Pozanco takes over from him as head of women's football in the country. "We propose projects for its development throughout the country, since it was only practiced in two cities, with recruitment tournaments in which around a thousand girls participated. In 2017 I renewed the contract for two years to continue with these projects & rdquor ;, recalls the Spanish coach at the request of this newspaper.

Change of minister

However, that year something happens that changes everything. The dictator Teodoro Obiang decides to dismiss the Minister of Sports, who was in turn president of FEGUIFUT, and puts his brother-in-law in his place, Candido Nsué, a powerful businessman in the country. "He had a soccer school, I was the one who set it up, actually," says Becker. Nsué decides to do a general cleaning in the federation and dismisses practically everyone to place people he trusts. “They summoned me to the Ministry and threw me out. Not the new president of FEGUIFUT, but the minister himself. And they wanted me to sign the termination letter without consulting my lawyers. 'Signatures and then check it out', they told me. I didn't, of course & rdquor ;, Pozanco explains. That day, Becker was in Senegal for a match with the senior team that ends 3-0. The result also serves as a pretext for his sudden dismissal upon his return to Malabo.

Becker had 19 months left on his contract and Pozanco 23 when they were fired

Until then, the two coaches had received their salaries normally, without a single delay, as both are quick to confirm, grateful as they are for the treatment received by the Equatorial Guineans and by the federative leaders while they carried out their work there. But after his dismissal the problems begin. Becker had 19 months left on his contract; to Pozanco, 23. They had the right to collect the integrity of what was signed, as the sports justice subsequently recognized, but the FEGUIFUT refuses to pay them what they are entitled to.

This is where the odyssey begins. Becker and Pozanco, after numerous attempts to collect for good, end up claiming the payment from FIFA, which agrees with their claim. Equatorial Guinea appeals the decisions of FIFA to the CAS, which also agrees with the two technicians in two awards from the end of 2020. FIFA then returns to action, since it is the body that must ensure compliance with the collection of the debt.

Months of defaults

On March 2021, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee gives FEGUIFUT an ultimatum of 30 days so that he pays, under threat, already then, of expelling his team from the World Cup qualification. You fail to do so.

On April, FEGUIFUT meets with the two technicians at the Equatorial Guinean embassy in Madrid and they agree on a debt reduction if it is paid within the agreed period. You fail to do so.

On May, FIFA gives you a second ultimatum of 60 days after assuring in a visit to the country that the presence of his team in the Africa Cup next winter is not in danger, but reiterating the threat of being excluded from the road to Qatar. Yes, it also violates it.

The current one is FIFA's third ultimatum to FEGUIFUT to pay its debt

We arrived to October of 2021, third ultimatum, and Becker and Pozanco still do not collect what is theirs while FEGUIFUT does not receive any punishment, beyond the increase in interest. The problem is that the main penalty to which he is exposed is his expulsion from the next World Cup & mldr; and that in less than a month Equatorial Guinea can be eliminated from that event. In other words, that Becker and Pozanco collect in the medium term what the sports justice has already ruled that belongs to them. depends on sporting success or failure of the Equatorial Guinea national team. This has been decided by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, even if it makes no sense.

This newspaper has contacted both FIFA and FEGUIFUT to obtain their version of events and their explanations of why the debt has not yet been paid. A FIFA spokesperson has limited himself to communicating that the process is open, that there are new recent decisions of the Disciplinary Committee and that "considering that they are not yet final, we cannot communicate much about them." FEGUIFUT has not responded upon request.

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