Technicality could give Herentals another reprieve 

Source: Technicality could give Herentals another reprieve | The Herald

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor

THE PSL’s authority to expel any of their teams has come under the spotlight after it emerged the clubs are members of ZIFA, in their individual capacities, and not under the umbrella of the top-flight league.

That means the expulsion of such a member can only be done in accordance with the provisions of the association’s constitution.

The PSL disciplinary committee expelled Herentals, from the top-flight league this week, after they found the Harare club guilty of having dragged the league to court.

The Students approached the High Court in Harare, pleading for the nullification of the decision by the PSL disciplinary committee to dock them three points, and fine them $300 000, in a match-fixing saga that erupted last year.

The Harare side were found guilty of allegedly having tried to manipulate their league match against Black Rhinos, which they won 3-0, and had three points from their tally docked by the disciplinary committee.

That would have seen Herentals slipping into Division One and being replaced by Chapungu United in the top-flight league.

However, the Students took their case to the ZIFA Appeals Board which quashed that conviction, ruling that the PSL disciplinary committee appeared biased in their approach, and restoring the club’s Premiership status.

The celebrations within the Herentals camp had hardly started, in the wake of their milestone boardroom victory at the ZIFA Appeals Board, when they were hit by another blow this week.

The PSL disciplinary committee said the Harare side pleaded guilty, to violating the rules and regulations governing the league, by taking football matters to court.

Herentals publicly issued an apology, to the domestic football family, in February this year when they realised the error of their ways.

“We’ve been thinking about how we reacted to the initial decision by the PSL disciplinary committee, especially our decision to file a High Court application to challenge the verdict,” club owner, Innocent Benza, said back then.

“We felt we took the wrong decision because the rules and regulations are very clear that football matters should be dealt with within the channels set up for such issues.  By taking our case to the High Court, we could have, unknowingly, appeared to be challenging the game and everything that it stands for and on reflection that was a wrong move.

“This is why we are withdrawing our case from the High Court so that we give the channels, open for the resolution of our case in football, a chance to do their work.

“We believe it is only fair that we apologise to our football leaders for the way we reacted to the decision by the PSL disciplinary committee because it gave the impression that we were challenging their authority.’’

However, the PSL disciplinary committee went ahead and expelled them from the league.

It has, however, emerged that the committee might not have the power to expel a member of ZIFA, which every PSL club became when the constitution was amended in 2013, but can only recommend the suspension of such a member to the association’s assembly.

Article 10 of the ZIFA constitution defines the member as ZIFA and they are:

a) The Clubs of the Premier Soccer League

b) The National League (once established)

c) The Northern Region Division One League

d) The Southern Region Division One League

e) The Eastern Region Division One League

f) The Central Region Division One League

The provincial leagues are also members of ZIFA.

While the lower leagues’ membership of ZIFA comes through their leagues, when it comes to the PSL clubs, it comes through each individual club’s membership of the league.

This then places each of the PSL clubs, who hold a vote in the ZIFA Assembly, in the event they are involved in matters that might involve an expulsion, under the provisions of the ZIFA statutes which deal with such matters.

This is meant to avoid the situation of having a ghost member who, while having been expelled from the top-flight league, might still be entitled to its rights within the ZIFA Assembly since its case was not dealt with using the judicial processes of the association.

Article 14, of the ZIFA constitution, deals with the suspension of the ZIFA members and says:

1) The Congress is responsible for suspension of a member. The executive committee may, however, suspend a member that seriously violates its obligations as a member, with immediate effect. The suspension shall last until the next Congress, unless the executive committee has lifted it in the meantime.

2) A suspension shall be confirmed at the next Congress by a vote of two-thirds majority of the valid votes cast. If it is not confirmed, the suspension is automatically lifted.

3) A suspended member shall lose its membership rights. Other members may not entertain sporting contact with a suspended member. The disciplinary committee may impose further sanctions.

Article 15, of the ZIFA constitution, then confirms the Congress’ powers to expel a member if:

a) It fails to fulfil its financial obligations towards ZIFA or FIFA or CAF.

b) It seriously violates the Statutes, regulations, directives or decisions of FIFA, CAF and ZIFA.

‘’The presence of an absolute majority (more than 50 percent of members entitled to vote at the Congress as necessary for an expulsion to be valid and the motion of expulsion must be adopted by a three-quarter majority of the valid votes cast.

‘’Clubs, Leagues, Regional Associations or any other groupings of Clubs affiliated to ZIFA shall be subordinate to and recognised by ZIFA. These Statutes define the scope of authority and the rights and duties of these and clubs and group. Their statutes and regulations must be approved by the executive committee of ZIFA.

‘’ZIFA shall have jurisdiction on internal disputes, (that is) disputes between parties belonging to ZIFA.’’