Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN
Following the FIFA scandal which led to the resignation of the embattled world soccer chief Sepp Blatter, Lithuanian football fans urge ouster of key men at the top of the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF). The reason? A dismal performance by the national squad with a negative record of zero goals scored and 16 goals lost in six matches over the last half-a-year.
After Lithuania conceded 0-2 to Malta in Valetta last weekend, Lithuanian football fans and some experts of the game have gone berserk. «Let’s make Kvedaras (the LFF chief) seek Sepp’s advice what to do when the organization stinks!» said a post under an article after the European Championship qualifier with Malta.
Former football chief wants «heads off»
«If FIFA president Sepp Blatter could be ousted, why cannot anyone kick out our football chief? The game [with Malta] was disastrous and let’s face it: Lithuanian football under the current football leadership has been in a deep ditch. It’s high time to address the deplorable plight now,» Algimantas Liubinskas, the former national football team coach and a respected game expert, is quoted as saying by Lithuanian media.
Ever more furious was the other former boss of Lithuanian football, Liutauras Varanavičius, the former LFF president.
«It is my fault that over the last few years of my presidency at the federation that I had laid out for these criminals [current LFF chiefs] unrealistically good conditions, enabling each of them pocket in 5 million euro for nothing,»regrets Varanavičius.
To stack up the Baltic neighbours’ national football squads, the Latvians and even the slowpoke Estonians teams have been well better off than Lithuania’s.
Admiringly, in the last qualifier, Estonia upset Finns in Helsinki 2-0 and Latvia escaped with a precious point in the draw with Ukraine in Kyiv.
A lengthy drought
Although all the three Baltic national football teams scramble on the bottom of the ranking, none of the other two has been seeing such a drought of goals and a lackadaisical football altogether as Lithuania.
What is the reason for the dragged-on goal drought?
«I reckon not all is about the scoring if we speak about the poor results by Lithuania. The organization of all our football is flawed, I believe. It is so starting with the kids already, where there is too much massiveness and little selection and screening. In other words, trying to grab the gem in thousands of shells,» Marselis Balasanovas, an Armenia-born coach, told BNN.
Second, he says, the very top of the Lithuanian Football Federation has to be shaken up.
«To have water good and tasty, it has to be streaming all the time. Alas, the LFF is built on a strict hierarchy and is change-proof, even during the marathon of failures that would get kicked out any other sport federation head around.»
Will public embarrassment work?
Braving up Lithuanian football fans and the sport community on the whole have been determined as never before to get Julius Kvedaras, the LFF president, unseated.
Having flocked mostly under Facebook, the rebels call for all who cares for Lithuanian football to ramp up the voices of dissatisfaction on how the Lithuanian football body is being run. The public campaign against Kvedaras goes under the slogan: «Juliau Kvedarai, get out!»
If the president keeps turning a blind ear to the demand to step down, the fans have vowed to publicly embarrass the chief in the upcoming European championship qualifier this Sunday against Switzerland by raising dozens placards with the call, urging Kvedaras to resign.
LFF supports coach of national squad
Meanwhile, the embattled LFF president has not shown signs of giving up, but hinted he is open for possible «discussions» as far as the game and the federation operations are concerned.
He, however, extended his full support for the unhappy coach, Pankratjevas, and reiterated that his resignation is off the agenda.
Meanwhile, the coach is being grilled by football fans and experts as to why some older-generation Lithuanian football stars, like Deividas Šemberas, for example, has not made the roster under his guardianship.
«The situation, indeed, has been complicated as we’ve had a series of unsuccessful games. It has psychologically ill-effected our team and to make out of the ditch we ended up we badly need points in the ranking. The results of friendly matches also were disappointing. We were not able to get eight key players walking on the pitch for the games. The replacements have not been up to the challenge,» Pankratjevas keeps excusing himself.
He, however, defended himself in making the calls for the players to join the national team.
«It is my exclusive right and no one is entitled to clout me on that,» he insisted.
It is all about footballer’s mentality
Meanwhile, Liubinskas, the former national football team coach, urges the Lithuanian authorities to get implicated in the downward spiralling of Lithuanian football.
The Lithuanian football body says that only patience and more exertion are needed for a turnaround rather sooner than later.
In the pursuit, the LFF has recently introduced a new ambitious project for children under the eye-catchy name «Let’s raise a Ronaldo for Lithuania». The project aims to screen over 100 thousand children in search for the future football stars.
But Balasanovas, the coach, insists on other take.
«Well, all projects of the kind are good, but I just don’t see most of the Lithuanian coaches honing the kids’ what I call is football thinking or mentality. To find a young pitch prodigy not only following the boy’s skills is necessary, but also working on the footballer’s way of thinking on the pitch, something which has to be brought by the child himself from the early days, so the future football stars have to be scouted yet in the three-old’s playgrounds» the coach is convinced.