The GFA Disciplinary Committee has fined Great Olympics an amount of GHC GH¢2,500.00 in respect of their First Capital Plus Premier League match against WAFA at the Sogakope on Sunday 25 January, 2015.
Accra Great Olympics was charged for failing to control the club’s players, officials and the supporters from holding the match referee hostage, verbally abusing and physically attacking him after the said match in violation of Articles 35(1)(b), 35(2) and 35(3)(c) of the GFA General Regulations.
Olympics in its Statement of Defence pleaded not guilty to the charge and requested a hearing to defend the charges against the club.
The Committee examined the depositions in the Charge Sheet, the Statement of Defence, the oral evidence of both Accra Great Olympics and the GFA Prosecutor, the reports of the match officials and the official video of the said match.
In its oral evidence, Accra Great Olympics explained that its players and officials did not insult, physically assault or threaten the Referee as alleged. Accra Great Olympics stated that football is full of emotions and some players and officials of the club only sought to ask the Referee the reason for some of the decisions he had taken against Olympics during the match, without any malice.
The club also indicated that those agitated players and officials did not even get close enough to the Referee before they were ushered away from the match official by some of the administrators of the club.
On the conduct of its supporters, Accra Great Olympics stated that the field of play at the Sogakope Park was not cordoned off as expected and there was only one entrance for both players and fans. The club thus contended that it cannot therefore be said that their fans were blocking the passage of the referee to his dressing room.
Accra Great Olympics sought to rely on a video coverage of the match and submitted same to the Committee. The Committee however, held that the said video shall be inadmissible, not coming from proper custody as Accra Great Olympics had neither been permitted by the Premier League Board to cover the match nor been furnished with a copy of the official match video by the GFA.
The Committee upon watching the official video of the match identified Mr. Joseph Akefie, the reserve goalkeeper for the club, some other players and officials of the club rushing towards the Referee on the field of play after the match, prompting the police personnel on duty to intervene and ward them off. Whereas, the words and sounds emanating from the players and officials were inaudible in the video, their hand gestures were clearly not complimentary to the Referee and they had to be restrained from the match official by the police personnel.
The Committee takes judicial notice of and commends the efforts of some administrators of Accra Great Olympics, notably, Mr. Fred Pappoe, in ushering the agitated players and officials from the Referee. However, the conduct of the few players and officials of Accra Great Olympics is prohibited by the Regulations and shall accordingly attract the necessary sanctions.
Article 35(2) of the General Regulations of the GFA provides that:
“Misconduct towards a match official away from the field of play where that misconduct can be related or traced to a match shall be dealt with as if it has been committed on the field of play”.
Again, it was also clear from the video that the behaviour of the few players and officials towards the Referee after the match incited the supporters who gathered at the gate to the field prompting the security personnel to quickly retreat from the gate and compelling the frightened Referee to remain on the pitch.
Article 35(1)(b) of the General Regulations provides as follows:
“A club official, player or member of a club who incites players against other players or match officials against their ruling or encourages an unhealthy demonstration in whatever form commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine to be determined by the GFA Disciplinary Committee or banned from attending matches played under the jurisdiction of the GFA for such period as the GFA Disciplinary Committee may determine”.
In this respect, the Committee was also mindful of Article 35(4) which states that:
“The Association shall hold clubs responsible for the misconduct of their supporters before, during and after a match”.
The Disciplinary Committee was satisfied that the conduct of the few players and officials, as well as the supporters amounted to misconduct and a breach of Regulations of the GFA and shall accordingly apply the necessary sanction against Accra Great Olympics in this respect.
Finally, the video of the incident could not however, support the application of Article 35(3) (c) of the General Regulations on usage of abusive language. Article 35(3)(c) of the Disciplinary Code provides that:
“Using abusive language against match officials before and after matches which did not attract expulsion shall be sanctioned as in paragraph 3a above”.
In the circumstances, the Committee was satisfied that Accra Great Olympics had not breached Article 35(3)(c) of the General Regulations of the GFA.
It is worth restating that there are structures within the Ghana Football Association which deal with complaints against any alleged mishandling of a match by a match official (may send a Complaint to the Match Review Committee established under Article 59(3) of the GFA Statutes) or a misconduct of a match official (may send a Complaint to the GFA Prosecutor appointed under Article 39 of the GFA Statutes Referees or to the Referee Committee under Article 64 which has the duty to recommend the suspension or removal from the referees list referees found to be incompetent or guilty of serious misconduct per Article 64(6) of the GFA Statutes).
The Disciplinary Committee makes the following decisions:
1. That the Committee having satisfied itself that the evidence adduced before it supports the charge of misconduct against the players and officials of Accra Great Olympics with respect to Articles 35(1)(b) and 35(2) of the GFA General Regulations, hereby imposes a fine of One Thousand and Five Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢1,500.00) on the club in accordance with Article 39(1)(b) of the GFA General Regulations.
2. That the Committee having satisfied itself that the evidence adduced before it supports the charge of misconduct against the supporters of Accra Great Olympics with respect to Article 35(4) of the GFA General Regulations, hereby imposes a fine of One Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢1,000) against the club in accordance with Article 39(1)(b) of the GFA General Regulations.
3. That the fines mentioned in Decision 1 and 2 above, shall be paid to the GFA within fourteen (14) days upon receipt of this Ruling, failing which Accra Great Olympics shall automatically forfeit all subsequent matches after the said deadline in accordance with Article 15(b) of the GFA Disciplinary Code and Article 39(8)(b) of the First Amendment to the GFA General Regulations.
4. That should any party be dissatisfied with or aggrieved by this Decision, the party has within three (3) days of being notified of this Ruling to appeal to the Appeals Committee (See Article 37(11) of the General Regulations of the GFA).
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