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CONCACAF boots team from Champions League after tournament has started

CONCACAF thought the best time to inspect a stadium to make sure it met Champions League standards was after the tournament had started.

George Frey

Belmopan Bandits won the Premier League of Belize last season to earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Only they won't get to play in it.

CONCACAF announced on Tuesday that Belmopan had been thrown out of the tournament because their stadium doesn't meet standards. This would be understandable if not for one thing: the Champions League has already started.

The tournament started last week with eight matches, and while Belmopan didn't play, the Champions League field is still being changed after it already began. Herediano of Costa Rica has been tabbed to replace Belmopan and will be in action next week. It may not make a huge difference in a group where Leon is heavily favored, but it's hysterical from a confederation that tries to convince anyone who will listen that the Champions League is a prestigious, important competition.

Only CONCACAF would manage to change the field after the tournament had started. It's not as if Belmopan's stadium is in worse shape today than it was last week, or the week before, or a month before. In fact, the stadium was much better after undergoing renovations this summer, but CONCACAF deemed the playing surface unsuitable after inspecting it on Sunday.

Yes, CONCACAF thought the best time to inspect a stadium and make sure it was up to snuff for a tournament was after that tournament had already started.

That any stadium could fall short of CONCACAF's standards is pretty remarkable. They have okayed pitches that had giant patches of dirt, were waterlogged, had six-inch high grass and turf that may as well be concrete. Seemingly the only standard CONCACAF has for fields is that there aren't shards of glass and dogs don't run around at midfield during matches because everything else has been deemed fine.

And yet Belmopan's field fell short of that, which CONCACAF wasn't aware of until Sunday.