Zifa dismiss PSL appeal
ZIFA have hit back at threats by the Premier Soccer League to take their stand-off over relegation and promotion to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the Association dismissing the move as “an emotional act that lacks merit.’’
The PSL and their member clubs, through their lawyers Coghlan, Welsh and Guest gave Zifa notification that they were lodging an application for arbitration through the Swiss-based court to seek remedy over their deadlock.
Zifa, however, hit back yesterday and accused the spokesperson of the PSL emergency committee Lewis Uriri of grandstanding.
The clubs are seeking to have the resolution of the Zifa Congress of October 29 declared a nullity because of procedural flaws related to constitutional violations.
But Zifa, though the chairman of their constitutional review committee Itai Ndudzo, laughed off the threats of the PSL’s CAS application and argued that the top-flight clubs ought to have exhausted domestic channels for conflict resolution before turning to the international body.
Ndudzo also reckoned that the league’s application would not be entertained by CAS as Zifa had not consented to the matter being referred for arbitration when the PSL, through their chairman Peter Dube, wrote to them giving their notification to appeal.
“The way we are looking at it is that the noise being made is nothing but nonsensical grandstanding without an appreciation of the elementary provisions of the Zifa constitution,” Ndudzo, who is also a lawyer, said.
“Article 59 (of the Zifa constitution) is very clear that any dispute is to be resolved using the domestic remedies that are available." Article 59 of the Zifa constitution states that: “Zifa shall create an Arbitration Tribunal, which shall deal with all internal national disputes between Zifa, its Members, Players, Officials and match and players’ agents that do not fall under the jurisdiction of its judicial bodies. The Executive Committee shall draw up special regulations regarding the composition, jurisdiction and procedural rules of this Arbitration Tribunal.
“As long as within Zifa no national independent Arbitration Tribunal has been duly constituted and recognised under the rules and regulations of Zifa, any dispute of national dimension between Zifa, its Members, Clubs, Players, Officials and match and players’ agents that do not fall under the jurisdiction of its judicial bodies may only be referred in the last instance to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. CAS will settle the dispute to the exclusion of any ordinary court unless expressly prohibited by the legislation in force in Zimbabwe’’.
It is Ndudzo’s argument that the matter, which the PSL is basing their application to CAS, is not a dispute as the clubs had participated but lost in a vote during the Zifa Congress of October 29 in Harare.
“If a vote is taken at Congress and if one loses it’s not a dispute but a loss,” said Ndudzo.
“Even if one is not happy with the outcome, it does not constitute a dispute because you are not disputing the threshold, you are not contesting the authenticity of the parties that took part in the vote so one can see that this is just an emotional reaction that has no basis."
He also warned the top clubs “against being misled by people with selfish agendas’’ and noted that for CAS to preside over an application for arbitration the warring parties needed to have agreed to the arbitration.
Ndudzo cited a part of the CAS code which states that:
“The disputes to which a federation, association or other sports-related body is a party are a matter for arbitration pursuant to this Code, only insofar as the statutes or regulations of the bodies or a specific agreement so provide…."
Ndudzo said the key part was that the PSL clubs voted and lost.
“CAS deals with disputes where one party approaches the other and they sign an agreement to take their dispute for arbitration,” said Ndudzo.
“If the statute expressly provides for direct application to CAS for arbitration then one can do so but our statutes expressly provide for domestic remedies to be exhausted first and the clubs as members of Zifa voted and lost on the issue of relegation.
“As far as Zifa is concerned there is no dispute that exists and the Congress position of 29 October stands. If a member is unhappy with a congress decision the member would have to wait to the next meeting or cause for the holding of an extraordinary meeting.
“Although Zifa have an arbitrator, Advocate Isaiah Mureriwa, whose appointment is a constitutional matter, there has been no case that has been brought before him as there is no dispute to talk about.”
Meanwhile, Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa’s meeting with club shareholders, which had been scheduled for Harare yesterday, was postponed with the Association’ boss indicating the indaba had been moved to next week to allow for more time for consultations between the concerned parties.