FIFA suspended Guatemalan Football Federation on October 28, 2016, citing resistance to oversight. The local federation FEDEFUT refused to allow elections for a new executive committee, following allegations of widespread corruption.
The players, the fans, and even the referees, all were getting frustrated with the politics of Guatemalan Football. The players wanted change, but were seen as lacking any form of unity, to force change.
It all started Thursday, March 16th, 2017, with a simple Instagram, from former FC Dallas and Guatemalan National Team legend Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz:
Yo, como futbolista Guatemalteco, por este medio quiero expresar mi… https://t.co/QfyoNlvur2— Carlos Ruiz (@CR20Fish) March 16, 2017
“As a Guatemalan footballer, I would like to express my disappointment and sadness about the current situation in Guatemala. We have the right to ask for quick solutions and this problem is over, as it affects not only us but the whole country in the development of football. We support AFG in its work and actions” Carlos Ruiz
His words spread through social media like wildfire. It wasn’t long before current players, former players, and Guatemalan league soccer clubs all took to Twitter under the hashtag #LosFutbolistasQueremosCambios to repeat Pescadito’s words:
The entire Guatemalan National Team took to social media in support of Carlos Ruiz, even former FCD Homegrown Player Moises Hernandez took up the call:
What does it all mean?
Ruiz has said on more than one occasion that Guatemala needs profound changes in soccer, and that he will fight to get them if he attains the position of president of the FEDEFUT.
Ruiz has in the past, explained, just what exactly is wrong with Guatemalan Football:
“The leaders have always been doctors, lawyers, architects and people who don't have a football background. So it is complicated. And the leaders, sadly, use the federation as a political springboard to get to the government posts, and some football league leaders use the teams to launder money. They are businessmen with dubious backgrounds.” Carlos Ruiz
While this is not a player “Strike”, it is seen as a clear threat of just that. Players have made several demands:
- They demand that the necessary changes be made, for Guatemalan football to return to “normalcy”. That is to say that Guatemalan football must comply with the demands placed on it by FIFA.
- The players are demanding a sort of player “Bill of Rights”. Players claim that pay has been withheld or continues to be withheld for long periods of times. Others claim difficulties in traveling abroad, perhaps one of the reason why this is the first year that MLS does not have a single Guatemalan player in the league. Many even complain of unsafe work conditions.
- They demand that the players have a “voice” in FEDEFUT. There are currently no former Guatemalan players on the 36 member governing committee.
- Players are demanding that clear rules and regulations be established, and that contracts be honored (i.e. players should be paid).
For their part, FEDEFUT has been quick to respond, but their response is seen as vague, or is doubted by many of the same players that have rallied around Ruiz. While it is uncertain what happens next, the one thing that is certain, is that “the winds of change” are blowing on Guatemalan Soccer.