PSL take Zifa dis­pute to CAS

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Pet­ros Kausiyo

PRE­MIER­SHIP clubs have gone ahead with their threat to take their dis­pute with Zifa over rel­e­ga­tion to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion (CAS) in Sport with the elite league fil­ing their ap­peal with the Switzer­land­based 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 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 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 prac­tis­ing 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 Caps 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 for Ar­bi­tra­tion in 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 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 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 17 -

“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 or­ga­ni­aa­tion 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’’.

Lloyd Chitem­bwe John Nyikadzino

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