Anxious moments for champions FC Platinum IN THE EYE OF THE STORM... Midfielder Juan Mutudza, seen here posing with the Castle Lager Premiership trophy at Mandava, is in the middle of the transfer wrangles between FC Platinum and former team Herentals

Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter

CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum will today know whether they will open the 2023 season as the reigning champions or otherwise as they face a sensational hearing which could see them being stripped of their championship.

The Zvishavane club won the league title last season, for a record-equaling fourth straight time to join giants Dynamos and Highlanders as the only teams to achieve the feat.

The platinum miners will be hoping that the ruling will go in their favour and continue with their march to set a new domestic Premiership title winning streak this season.

But, they could as well suffer the possibility of being stripped of a title they won four months ago, just two weeks before they begin its defence.  The miners have been hauled before ZIFA on allegations they used an ineligible player, Juan Mutudza in their successful campaign last season.

The complainant in the matter is Herentals, who claim Mutudza had a running contract with them which was supposed to lapse only at the end of November last year.

Mutudza played a key role for FC Platinum, even single-handedly destroying title rivals Chicken Inn in a decisive game in Bulawayo.

FC Platinum, together with Dynamos will appear before the ZIFA Player Status Committee with DeMbare being also finger-pointed for their role in an alleged improper clearance of Mutudza to join the Zvishavane team.

The talented midfielder spent two years on loan at Dynamos after which he was supposed to revert back to the Students with whom he still had a subsisting deal, as Herentals claim.

But, he headed to FC Platinum instead.

Herentals then engaged FC Platinum with the latter acknowledging the issue and even offering a “fee” to Herentals in a desperate bid to buy their silence.

But the Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva-coached team set conditions for any dialogue including demanding that Mutudza stop playing for FC Platinum for that time.

Although the player was briefly released to travel back to Harare and “sort his issues”, he was back playing for Norman Mapeza’s team again.

Riled, Herentals decided to lodge a complaint with ZIFA last year.

But the issue took too long to be settled with the matter having initially been set for three weeks ago but FC Platinum asked for more time to “study the accusations and prepare for their defence.”

That prompted ZIFA to move the issue to March 3 (today) and it will be interesting to see which direction the matter will move.

Dynamos could as well be culpable as they are accused of having, through their secretary general Webster Marechera, improperly cleared Mutudza giving an impression to FC Platinum that the player belonged to the Glamour Boys.

“The matter is due for hearing on March 3. Herentals are the complainants while FC Platinum are the accused. Dynamos will also be there to answer to some of the accusations being raised. That’s all I can say,” said ZIFA Acting Chief Executive Officer Xolisani Gwesela.

Although player registration is now being done online, there is also a possibility the system might have been tampered with to “fraudulently” register Mutudza as an FC Platinum player.

According to FIFA statutes, a team can be stripped of whatever they win if they are found guilty of having used an ineligible player(s) in any competition.

Chicken Inn, who finished the season in second place last season, could be crowned champions should FC Platinum be found guilty and stripped of the title.

Dynamos have previously been victims of these circumstances when three points were deducted from them for using striker Edmore Mufema back in 2003, who according to the ZIFA Player Status Committee ruling, belonged to Motor Action in their match against Lancashire Steel.

The Glamour Boys went on to lose the title by three points to AmaZulu.

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