Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE Premier Soccer League are running the risk of finding themselves in contempt of the High Court after executing a decision by their disciplinary committee to expel Herentals from their membership.
The top-flight league announced yesterday they had expelled the Harare club after their disciplinary committee found the Students guilty of taking football matters to the High Court earlier this year.
The Students approached the High Court, as part of efforts to overturn a decision passed by the PSL disciplinary committee, who had found them guilty of match-fixing last year.
Herentals were docked three points, which would have been enough to send them into Division One, while they were also fined $300 000.
However, the ZIFA Appeals Board quashed that conviction.
Yesterday, in another twist to the tale, the PSL announced that their disciplinary committee had now charged Herentals with taking matters to the High Court in contravention of the statutes that govern domestic and international football.
At their annual meeting in Harare earlier this month, the PSL board of governors agreed that clubs which drag football matters to court would be expelled from the league.
However, the PSL might have forgotten that in doing so, they were running the risk of being found in contempt of a High Court order, in which the league were one of the respondents, delivered in 2010.
Justice Nicholas Ndou delivered that order after Highlanders approached the High Court seeking the suspension of the BancABC final between Dynamos and CAPS United.
Bosso challenged the staging of that match on the basis their semi-final against DeMbare, which was abandoned after disturbances rocked the stadium, had not ended and the Glamour Boys could not be declared winners.
A PSL ad-hoc committee had ruled in favour of DeMbare but Highlanders still felt that their rights had been exercised and approached the High Court. The respondents in the landmark case where Dynamos (1st Respondents), PSL (2nd Respondents), BancABC (Pvt) Ltd (3rd Respondents), Cuthbert Chitima (4th Respondents), Dan Moyo, in his capacity as head of the Ad-Hoc Arbitration Committee (5th Respondents) and Kenny Ndebele, the then acting PSL chief executive (6th Respondent).
‘’The applicant seeks a provisional order suspending the playing of the BancABC Super 8 Cup final game between the 1st Respondents (Dynamos) and CAPS United pending the application for review filed in this court under HC 1800/10,’’ the judgment read.
There were arguments that Bosso should not have approached the High Court because the FIFA Statutes did not allow for such interventions with Article 62 being specific that:
“1. The Confederations, Members and Leagues shall agree to recognise CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) as an independent judicial authority and to ensure that their members, affiliated players and officials comply with the decisions passed by CAS. The same obligation shall apply to licensed match and player’s agents.
2. Recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”
However, Justice Ndou questioned that in his judgment.
‘’This Court cannot decline to exercise jurisdiction in football matters on account of FIFA Statutes. FIFA Statutes do not oust the inherent jurisdiction of the court,’’ the judgment read.
‘’The Statutes are binding on its affiliates, and not this court. FIFA statutes create a disciplinary dispensation for its members. I associate myself with KAMOCHA J in Khami United Football Club v Zimbabwe Football Association HB – 22-10 (HC 589/10) on this point.
‘’This point is devoid of merit.’’
Justice Ndou went on to deliver a judgment which then barred the PSL and Dynamos from staging the 2010 BancABC Super8 Cup final until Bosso’s case had been exhausted.
‘’It is beyond dispute that as a participant in the competition, Highlanders have a clear right to protest flaws in the competition,’’ the judgment read.
‘’The basis of the protest is detailed in the applicant’s papers. The applicant has a well granted apprehension that should the final game to be played before the application under HC 1800/10 is determined, the latter outcome will be of academic nature.
‘’The balance of convenience favours the granting of the interim relief. If the application, under HC 1800/10, is ruled in favour of the applicant after the final game it would mean that the game between the applicant and 1st Respondent (Dynamos) will be replayed.
‘’If the other team CAPS FC has won the final game, they may not accept the turn of events resulting in further legal contestation. This is not good for all the parties involved including the 1st and 2nd Respondents.
‘’This will, in any event, defeat the objective of clause 13.1 of the competition as the Cup tournament will be characterised by unnecessary litigation.
‘’It does not make sense that a Cup final game is played when there are pending issues which may affect the outcome outside the football pitch. The balance of convenience favour the determination of all outstanding protests before the final game.
‘’Finally, the applicant (Highlanders) has no other satisfactory remedy as alluded to above in view of the provisions of Clause 13.2 of the competition rules, supra.
‘’It does seem to me that the parties in their papers delved unnecessarily on emotive aspects of the abandoned game and personalities involved. In the process they tended to lose focus on the main issue.
‘’The main issue seem to be whether the game was abandoned on account of behaviour of Highlanders supporters (the basis for Ad Hoc Committees finding against applicant) or whether it was on account of poor visibility as reflected in the match referees report.
‘’Accordingly, I grant the provisional order in terms of the amended draft order against the 1st and 2nd respondents.’’
Interestingly, probably riding on the provisions of the same order, the PSL in June 2014 took their case to the High Court in a dispute between them and their former employee, Cuthbert Mutandwa, seeking an order in the following terms:
1. Cancellation of the lease agreement entered into between the parties as signed in January 2013.
2. Eviction of the first and the second defendants (Freddy Mangoma and Cuthbert Mutandwa) and all those claiming occupation through them from the premises at No. 13 12th Avenue, Haig Park Mabelreign, Harare.
3. Payment of the sum of US$3 000 being arrear rentals for the months of March to June 2014.
4. Holding over damages at US$750 per month from 1 July 2014 to date of vacation.
5. Payment of US$446,07 being the amount outstanding in respect of rates.
6. Interest on all the amounts due at the prescribed rate from the date of issue of summons to date of full payment.
7. Costs of suit on a legal practitioner and client scale.’’
The PSL application was dismissed.