GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) – FIFA has asked Argentina's soccer leaders to explain reports that their league has been named after a naval ship sunk by British forces during the Falkland Islands conflict 30 years ago.
FIFA said Tuesday that the Argentina Football Association could face sanctions if the top-tier division ''was set to be named after 'Crucero General Belgrano.'''
FIFA wrote last Friday to the AFA, headed by FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona.
''FIFA has requested the AFA to provide further information on this matter,'' the governing body said in a statement. It pointed out its rule prohibiting discrimination against countries for political reasons with possible penalties up to suspension or expulsion. Political statements on teams uniforms and equipment are also prohibited.
''A potential change of name of the Liga de Primera Division would clearly infringe,'' FIFA said.
More than 300 Argentine servicemen died when the General Belgrano was torpedoed by a British submarine in 1982.
Tensions between countries have increased in recent weeks with the approaching 30-year anniversary in April of the conflict beginning.
The Argentine government was angered by the recent arrival in the Falklands - called Las Malvinas in Argentina - of Prince William, second in line to the British throne. The prince has been deployed to the islands for six weeks as a search-and-rescue pilot.
The British government says it is a routine deployment. Argentina has called it provocative.
Actor Sean Penn met with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires on Monday and called on Britain to join U.N.-sponsored talks on the islands' future.
The 80-year-old Grondona was the AFA's leader during the conflict and has not hidden his opposition to British sovereignty over the islands.
When England competed to host the 2018 World Cup, Grondona joked with reporters that he would considering supporting its bid only if Britain handed over the islands. Russia's bid won.