Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
PREMIERSHIP clubs have gone ahead with their threat to take their dispute with ZIFA over relegation to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the elite league filing their appeal with the Switzerland-based body. Lawyers representing the Premier Soccer League — Coghlan Welsh and Guest — yesterday wrote to ZIFA notifying them that they had taken their dispute with the domestic soccer mother body to CAS whom they believe should conduct the arbitration in their row.
The move comes as ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa is today expected to meet with shareholders of the Premiership clubs to update them on the situation in the domestic game. The PSL’s decision to appeal to CAS also appears to be a slap in the face on ZIFA’s arbitrator and respected lawyer Isiah Mureriwa, who was at the weekend appointed to handle such matters in line with constitutional requirements.
ZIFA announced the appointment of Mureriwa and gave notice of the crucial meeting between Chiyangwa and the club shareholders in a statement that was also posted on the association’s website.
“The ZIFA executive committee has with immediate effect, appointed Advocate Isiah Mureriwa, a distinguished Advocate of the High Court of South Africa; a registered legal practitioner in Zimbabwe; a partner at Scanlen and Holderness and a practicing advocate with the Commercial Arbitration Centre (Harare), as the chairperson of the ZIFA Arbitration Tribunal in terms of Article 59 (i) of the ZIFA constitution.
“The ZIFA Executive Committee has also appointed Bhudhama Chikamhi of BCA Consultants as the forensic auditor to audit the financial and corporate governance affairs of the Premier Soccer League from 2010 to date.
“The appointment is with immediate effect and the findings of the forensic audit report shall be tabled before the ZIFA congress for decision-making.
“Meanwhile, the chairperson of the ZIFA Executive Committee, Dr Philip Chiyangwa shall exclusively meet with all shareholders of all Premier Soccer League clubs on the 22nd of November 2016 for an update on current developments in Zimbabwean football,’’ read part of the ZIFA statement.
The meeting between Chiyangwa and the club shareholders is also aimed at easing the hardline stance taken by the top teams’ board governors on the one hand and the association on the other amid calls by neutrals for the two parties “to find each other’’.
Despite a meeting between the shareholders and the ZIFA boss taking place, the clubs have pressed ahead with their bid to pursue the route to have the matter deliberated on by CAS and they made their intentions known through a letter written to ZIFA by their lawyers.
“We write to advise that we have been instructed by our client and filed a request with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We have requested CAS to arbitrate in the dispute between the parties and you will be receiving communication from CAS anytime from now.
“The issues for determination will be served on you together with a copy for request of the arbitration,’’ wrote Coghlan, Welsh and Guest.
Relations between ZIFA and their flagship affiliate broke down on October 29 following the move by the association’s congress to reverse a decision to demote two teams from the Premiership and promote as many sides from the regional Division One Leagues via the promotional play-offs.
ZIFA have been adamant that four teams must be demoted at the end of the PSL season and want the regional Division One champions to gain automatic promotion while the top-flight have resisted the stance, insisting that the October 29 ZIFA assembly resolution was constitutionally flawed.
The top clubs who first met moments after the October 29 also reconvened in Harare on Saturday after which they resolved to take their impasse with ZIFA to CAS and yesterday they commissioned their lawyers to process the application with the Swiss court.
In the application lodged with CAS — a 26 — page document, the PSL and the 16 clubs who currently constitute the league are cited as the applicants with ZIFA through their president Chiyangwa and acting chief executive Joseph Mamutse as the respondents.
The clubs said the application to CAS had been one of the major resolutions of their extraordinary meeting where they also discussed the suspension by ZIFA of their chairman Peter Dube.
The PSL and the PSL clubs resolved to meet to deliberate upon the suspension of its chairman. This was following a request by 12 of the 16 Clubs of the PSL. The meeting was scheduled for Saturday 17 November 2016’’.
In their stand-off with ZIFA the clubs allege that ZIFA want to disband the league by declaring the PSL an unlawful entity and cited a circular from Mamutse to all clubs as part of their evidence to support their case at CAS.
“Chiyangwa and his executive immediately indicated that the PSL had no standing in terms of the ZIFA Constitution.
“They threatened the PSL and the PSL Clubs and their officials that sanctions would be imposed upon clubs and officials who associated with “an organisation with no legal recognition” in terms of the ZIFA Constitution. This was a reference to the PSL. They further threatened clubs and officials that they would be sanctioned for not taking decisions relating to their membership of ZIFA independently’’.
At their meeting the clubs also appointed Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa to chair an emergency committee that would run the league with PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele reporting to that committee.
“The PSL and the PSL Clubs resolved that the PSL’s Emergency Committee would preside over the administration of the PSL pending the resolution of the chairman’s matter. They appointed (Lewis) Uriri as spokesman of the Emergency Committee. They reaffirmed the resolution of the 29th October 2016 to refer the matter to arbitration by CAS. In doing so they observed the following: Page 17 of 26
“That in response to our letter aforesaid and for which we take collective responsibility as the PSL Governors and on behalf of our respective Clubs, ZIFA suspended our chairman on allegations that find their expression first in ZIFA’s response to our letter aforesaid and THAT there is a deliberate scheme to render the PSL dysfunctional and consequently noting the following:
“(i) the abortive attempt to amend the ZIFA Constitution on the 29th October, 2016 so as to effectively expel the members of the PSL from ZIFA and have the PSL, which has not applied for membership, imposed as a member on the Club’s behalf with delegates reduced from 16 to 4
“(ii) the unjustified suspension, in our view, of our chairman is punishment for communicating our collective view and (iii) the threats, direct and implied, directed at officers of the PSL or member clubs, that they will be suspended or otherwise dealt with for not towing the line and (iv) the description of the PSL as an organisation which has no standing in terms of the ZIFA Constitution, a position we do not agree with as the ZIFA Constitutions mentions the PSL and ZIFA has received and continues to receive the PSL’s affiliation fees and levies, and (v) the “directive” that PSL Clubs are “bound not to maintain any relations of any nature whatsoever with persons and entities that have no legal recognition in the ZIFA Statutes . . .” is directed at the PSL.
“(vi) the directive that “each PSL Club as a member of ZIFA is required to take all decisions on matters regarding their membership independently of an external body, entity or person” is an unlawful attempt to stifle consultation amongst PSL Clubs in respect of common interests, and (vii) ZIFA’s administrative structures and Congress have been rendered dysfunctional such that ZIFA as an entity can no longer make decisions as such, but has become a powerless vehicle for the implementation of the whims of a group of individuals who have arrogated to themselves the exclusive function of running football in Zimbabwe,’’ the clubs said.
With accusations and counter accusations flying from one end to the other and with the Sport and Recreation Commission seemingly uninterested bystander, it may now also require the Ministry of Sport and Recreation to bring the warring parties to an indaba and ensure “football wins at the of all the madness’’.