Shocking news coming out of the Caribbean this afternoon. News outlets in Panama are saying that the Bahamas FA have announced that they have withdrawn from the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament. The announcement came in the form of a memorandum sent by FIFA's head of Qualifying Competitions to the Panamanian FA. No official confirmation has been made by FIFA at this writing, but if you look at the fixture list for the next three months, no matches involving the Bahamas are listed.
The withdrawal means that Group C now becomes a three-team group, composed of Panama, Dominica, and Nicaragua. Only six matches are needed to play the double round-robin, so we will see one group match on the six international matchdays between September and November.
I have to wonder if there are other CONCACAF minnows who are giving a hard look at their capabilities of carrying out a six-match qualifying program. If so, I fear that the Bahamas may not be the only withdrawal from the CONCACAF qualifiers.
UPDATE: About two hours ago there was a news release from CONCACAF that communicated Bahamas' withdrawal from the competition, but now I cannot find any mention of it on their website. It's hard to find anything on CONCACAF's website but could there be a reversal? (Here it is. -H)
Whatever the excuse is from the FA, it can't have anything to do with the lack of an international stadium.
UPDATE #2: This article from the Nassau Guardian explains the main issue behind the reported withdrawal. Bahamas' national stadium was rebuilt thanks to financing and construction funded by the Chinese (PRC) government. The Chinese part of the project was completed on time, but the Bahamian part of the project -- construction of roads, sewer systems, parking and landscaping -- started at least four months late. Worse, the stadium operation teams, which have to be staffed by Bahamaians, have not yet been formed.
As a result, Bahamas has a gleaming new stadium that is inoperable, like a sports car with no gas or tires. What a profound embarrassment. The costs to Bahamian football could be severe, at minimum a CHF20,000 fine up to and including exclusion from future World Cup qualifying cycles. (cf FIFA World Cup regulations)