Nania FC have been declared losers of their GN Bank Division One League match against Sporting Mirren played at the St Thomas Aquinas Park on March, 15 2015.
SUMMARY OF THE FACTS
CASE OF SPORTING MIRREN FC
Sporting Mirren Football Club (the Petitioner) on March 24, 2015 protested against FC Nania (the Respondent) for fielding unqualified players in their GN Bank Division One League match in contravention of Articles 16(4), 16(5), 29(1)(a) and 34(1)(e) of the General Regulations of the GFA.
According to the Petitioner, the Respondent failed to produce the licences of all their players who played in the match for inspection and also failed to present them to the GFA within 72 hours after the match. The picture of the players together with the match referee and captain of the Petitioner was attached to the Protest signed by Mr. Fadi Fattal, Director of the Petitioner.
They contended further that the players were not registered officially to play in the said match.
The Petitioner consequently, demanded that by the application of Article 34(1)(e) the match points should be awarded in their favour and that FC Nania should be made to suffer the sanctions under Article 34(5)(a) of the General Regulations of the GFA.
DEFENCE OF FC NANIA
In its Statement of Defence filed on March 31, 2015, FC Nania contended that the Protest against them was without merit and ought to be dismissed because of the following reasons:
i. That all the players are duly registered in accordance to the rules and that all the biometric registration cards of the players were presented to the GFA and the photocopies were with the GFA. ii. That a fine of GHc725.00 was imposed them by the GFA for playing matches without registration cards (Receipt of payment was attached).
iii. Also attached were, a GFA letter dated March 15, 2015 advising Nania FC to present all their registration cards to the GFA by close of business on March 19, 2015 and official receipts of payment for registration cards dated February 20, 2015.
REPLY OF SPORTING MIRREN FC
In its Reply filed on April 15, 2015, (due to delayed service on them) Sporting Mirren FC indicated that FC Nania have failed to respond to the contents of their Protest. They contended that “in fact, Akwesi Owusu in jersey number 8 was indeed registered on the 24th March, 2015. This is evidently clear on his license making him and others unregistered at the date of the match in question”.
FINDINGS AND GROUNDS OF THE DECISION
The Committee finds as follows:
1. That the Respondent did not present the licences of all the players at the match for inspection. 2. That the pictures of the players of the Respondent together with the match referee and the opposing captain were taken. 3. That player Akwesi Owusu registration was at the verification stage when the match was played. 4. That Akwesi Owusu was registered on March 24, 2015 long after the match had been played on March 15, 2015. 5. That Akwesi Owusu was not duly registered at the time they played the match.
The relevant regulations on this matter are very clear. Article 26(3) of the General Regulations is in support of the Protest. The said regulation states as follows: Article 26(3)(a)“If a player who has not been registered with the Association appears for a club in any official match, that player will be considered as having played illegitimately….”.
This above Article finds support in the definition of an unqualified player under Article 29(1)(a) and also Article 29(2)(a) of the General Regulations as follows: Article 29(1)(a)“An unqualified player is any player not registered at an association who appears for a club in any official match”. Article 29(2)(a)“An unqualified player shall not take part in any competition organised by the Association”. The Petitioner again, rightly stated that the Respondent should suffer forfeiture under Article 34(1)(e) of the General Regulations of the GFA. The said article reads: Article 34(1)(e)“A team commits an offence punishable by forfeiture of a match where it fields an unqualified player(s)”
In order for the Protest to succeed, however, the said unqualified player must have been fielded in the said match. A player who remains on the substitute bench is deemed not to have been fielded under Article 29(2)(b) of the Regulations.
This article reproduced provides as follows. Article 29(2)(b) For the avoidance of doubt, a player shall not be deemed to have been fielded in a match unless he actually played in the match. It is our finding that Akwesi Owusu was actually fielded in the match and are caught in the web of Article 34(1)(e) of the General Regulations. It is therefore our holding that the Protest shall succeed.
On the response of FC Nania, it is the considered view of the Committee that the punishment for a club’s failure to present its licences for inspection at a match under Article 16(5)(a) and/or 16(5)(c) cannot be used to justify the use of an unqualified player in any official match.
Yet again, per the amended Article 34(7) it is the responsibility of a club to be vigilant with the stipulated time to request for points and prove its case under Article 34 and the GFA could not have granted them points suo muto even though the GFA is right to punish for the failure to present the cards. Article 34(7) “For the avoidance of doubt, a team shall forfeit a match under this Article 34(1) in consequence of a protest duly filed within the time limited for filing of protests under these regulations”.
The Committee therefore makes the following decisions:
1. That for fielding four unqualified players in the match, FC Nania shall forfeit the match in accordance with Article 34(1)(e) of the General Regulations of the GFA.
2. That having been found to have forfeited the match, FC Nania shall be considered as having lost the match in accordance with Article 34(2) and accordingly, three (3) points and three (3) goals are hereby awarded in favour of Sporting Mirren FC in accordance with Articles 34(2) and 34(10) of the General Regulation of the GFA.
3. That in addition, being the defaulting club, FC Nania is hereby fined Two Thousand and Five Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢2,500.00) payable to the GFA, 50% of which shall be paid to Sporting Mirren FC pursuant to Article 34(5)(b) of the General Regulations of the GFA.
4. That in addition, being the defaulting club, FC Nania shall lose three (3) points from the club's accumulated points from their previous matches pursuant to Article 34(5)(a) of the General Regulations of the GGFA
5. That the amounts of money mentioned in Decision 3 above, shall be paid to the GFA within fourteen (14) days upon receipt of this Ruling, failing which FC Nania shall automatically forfeit all subsequent matches after the said deadline by the Division One League Board or the GFA in accordance with Articles 39(8)(b), 39(8)(d) and 39(8)(f) of the First Amendment to the GFA General Regulations.
6. That should any party be dissatisfied with or aggrieved by this Decision, the party has within three (3) days of being notified of this Ruling to appeal to the Appeals Committee of the Ghana Football Association (See Article 37(11) of the General Regulations of the GFA).