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By ESPN Staff
Oct 31, 2006

Bosnia players threaten boycott over BFA bosses

SARAJEVO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Thirteen Bosnia national team players have threatened to boycott international call-ups unless the heads of the Bosnian Football Association (NFSBIH) resign.

The group, all foreign-based players, made their threat in an open letter published in Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz on Tuesday.

'We will no longer accept call-ups to the national team while these people are performing these functions, hoping that our gesture will mark the first step in the healing of this cancer in our soccer and a new beginning for the national team for which our hearts beat,' the letter said.

Bosnia have failed to qualify for the finals of a major tournament after a decade of trying.

Their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign began with a 5-2 win away over Malta but was followed by a shock 3-1 loss at home to Hungary, then a 2-2 draw with Moldova and a 4-0 defeat at home by Greece.

The domestic league is also in a poor state, mired in allegations of corruption and match-fixing. The NFSBIH is run on ethnic lines that reflect the delicate balance between the country's two parts, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation, created after the 1992-95 war.

NFSBIH's spokeswoman Slavica Pecikoza said the association had no immediate comment on the letter but its executive board was scheduled to meet on Friday.

The letter called specifically for the resignations of the NFSBIH boards's Muslim, Serb and Croat members and of the national team director.

'Those gentlemen (in the NFSBIH) do not want to face the truth and admit to themselves what they have done for team, besides degrading its honour and constantly disturbing relations among us,' the players added.

Bosnia's best-loved player Sergej Barbarez, who retired from internationals earlier this month at the age of 35, said football in Bosnia could not move forward while it was run on ethnic lines.