5 Sus­pended

Voda­fone Premier League comes first, play­ers’ warned

Fiji Sun - - Sport - SHRATIKA NAIDU - Edited by Leone Cabenatabua Feed­back: shratika.naidu@fi­jisun.com.fj

Ten­sion was high when Labasa and Dreketi dis­trict reps were stopped from play­ing for their teams in the Car­pen­ters Fi­nance Labasa Sanatan tour­na­ment at Subrail Park, Labasa yes­ter­day.

The tour­na­ment of­fi­cials acted af­ter they were in­formed by the Dreketi and Labasa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions that they had sus­pended the play­ers who should have been play­ing for their dis­trict teams in this week­end’s Voda­fone Premier League com­pe­ti­tion but in­stead opted out. The play­ers were Dreketi and former na­tional foot­ball striker Anish Khem and Shamal Lal along with Labasa reps Ash­neel Raju, Ravikash Kr­ishna and Vikrant Chan­dra.

Khem, Raju and Kr­ishna played for De­lai To­vata while Lal and Chan­dra rep­re­sented Naleba. Khem, Raju and Kr­ishna con­fronted the tour­na­ment of­fi­cials and ar­gued about the di­rec­tive they had given.

Labasa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Varun Anand told SUNs­ports that they sus­pended Raju, Kr­ishna and Chan­dra from all level of foot­ball.

“They are li­cence dis­trict play­ers and they should put their pri­or­ity first for the dis­trict as we had a match against Ba and Tavua this week­end for the Voda­fone Premier League and th­ese were very cru­cial games for us,” he said.

“If they had a prayer at home then they should be at home and not play­ing in the tour­na­ment. Rep­re­sent­ing the dis­trict team is im­por­tant for us and it comes first.”

Dreketi Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Mukesh Ku­mar said fol­low­ing their dis­cus­sion with the Fiji Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion they then de­cided to sus­pend Lal and Khem. “The two play­ers un­der­stood how im­por­tant were the games against Tavua and Ba and yet they chose to do oth­er­wise.

“They have signed con­tracts with us and should not breach those con­di­tions.”

Dreketi have to beat Tavua to­day to avoid be­ing rel­e­gated to the se­nior di­vi­sion while Labasa are chas­ing for a sec­ond spot to qual­ify for next year’s OFC Cham­pi­ons League. When ap­proached Khem and Raju said they had a prayer ses­sion at home and had in­formed their re­spec­tive of­fi­cials.

“I had ap­plied for win­dow trans­fer to Rewa and my dis­trict of­fi­cials are aware about it,” Khem said. “I even sent an email to Fiji FA CEO Mo­hammed Yusuf and he ac­knowl­edged my email about my ab­sence. I don’t know why they hav­ing per­sonal grudges.” Kr­ishna said he had been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tour­na­ment for so many years and can’t un­der­stand why the tour­na­ment of­fi­cials did not al­low him to play.

“We should be al­lowed to play un­der the Sanatan ban­ner as we are Sanatans,” Kr­ishna said. De­lai To­vata Sanatan coach Sha­neel Prasad said he was dis­ap­pointed when his three play­ers were stopped from play­ing. Tour­na­ment chair­man Mor Singh said Fiji FA had in­formed the ref­er­ees’ co­or­di­na­tor to in­struct the panel of ref­er­ees of the tour­na­ment to pull out if th­ese sanc­tioned play­ers en­ter the field of play.

“This is ut­ter in­jus­tice against us as or­gan­is­ers of the tour­na­ment. This has caused chaos in the teams con­cerned and also un­nec­es­sary de­lays in the tour­na­ment,” Singh added.

When con­tacted for a com­ment Yusuf ’s phone was switched off. How­ever, Fiji FA com­pe­ti­tions man­ager Amitesh Pal told SUNs­ports that he wasn’t aware about the ar­range­ment but would li­aise with Yusuf be­fore they pro­vide a re­sponse.

Photo: Shratika Naidu

From left: Anish Khem, De­lai To­vata Sanatan team coach Sha­neel Prasad, Ravikash Kr­ishna and Ash­neel Raju at Subrail Park, Labasa dur­ing the Car­pen­ters Fi­nance Labasa Sanatan tour­na­ment on Septem­ber 15,2018.

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