Tema Youth FA Cup protest against Great Astronomers dismissed

Tema Youth FC’s protest against Great Astronomers in respect of the MTN FA Cup Round of 64 match has been dismissed by the GFA Disciplinary Committee.

According to Tema Youth, during the match on 18th March, 2015, Great Astronomers failed to produce the licence of player number 16 (Safiyanu Kitcher) so his photographs were taken in accordance with Article 16 (3) of the GFA General Regulations.

In accordance with Article 41.5 of the GFA Statutes and Articles 37(10)(a) to 37(10)(d) of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) General Regulations, the Disciplinary Committee (the Committee) examined the depositions from Tema Youth Football Club (Petitioner) and Great Astronomers Football Club (Respondent) and the official reports of the match officials.

Tema Youth Football Club (the Petitioner) on March 23, 2015 protested against Great Astronomers Football Club (the Respondent) for fielding an unqualified player (player number 16) in the MTN FA Cup Round of 64 match.

According to the Petitioner, the Respondent failed to produce the licences of the said player for inspection before their match. The Petitioner claimed that pictures of the player together the match referee was taken in accordance with Article 16(3) of the General Regulations of the GFA (pictures attached to the Protest).

They contended further that the Respondent failed to submit the photograph of the affected player to the GFA Secretariat within the stipulated period because the player had not been properly registered at the time he played the match contrary to Articles 16(3), 15(5a & 5b). 29(1)(a) and 34(1)(e) of the General Regulations of the GFA.

The Petitioner consequently, demanded that by the application of Article 34(1)(e) the match points should be awarded in its favour.

After the expiry of the two-day period for filing a Statement of Defence, Great Astronomers had not filed a Defence.

The Committee finds as follows:
8. That the Respondent did not present the licence of three of its players including the said player (jersey number 16) by name Safiyanu Kitcher at the match for inspection.

9. That a picture of the concerned player and the two other players together with the captain of the opposing team and the match referee was taken.

10. That on March 20, 2014 in a letter signed by Isaac Tettey (Chairman of Great Astronomers), the Respondent submitted the photograph and the licences of three players including the concerned player to the GFA before the 72 hour deadline.

11. That the concerned player was been duly registered at the time they played the match.

Even though the Respondent did not file any Statement of Defence, the burden of proof of this protest lies on the protesting club under Article 34(13)(a) of the General Regulations.

Article 34(13)(a) of the General Regulations as amended states as follows:

Article 34(13)(a) “The burden of proof regarding protest between clubs rest on the protesting club and in the case of a charge by the Prosecutor, the burden rest with the Prosecution”.

The first issue for the Committee to determine was whether the Protest was properly filed to enable the Committee to consider the merits of same.

On this, it is instructive to note the departure from the protest provisions in the General Regulations of the GFA as evident in the provisions on protest in the FA Cup Regulations approved by the GFA Congress on December 30, 2014. The provision on protest of the FA Cup Regulations is very clear and unambiguous.

Article 30(b) of the FA Cup Regulations states that:

Article 30(b) “Where a Club wishes to protest that there has been a breach of these Regulations, such protest must be made in writing (on the appropriate forms) and must contain the particulars of the grounds upon which it is made. The protest must be received by the GFA Account Office, accompanied by the appropriate fee receipt within two days after the match to which it relates”.

This is a Protest in relation with an MTN FA Cup match played under the FA Cup Regulations and it is the Committee’s position that the above regulation shall apply.

One may argue that in the General Regulation, a club has seven (7) days within which to file a protest concerning an unqualified player. This position however, cannot find support under the FA Cup Regulation which has specific regulations to deal with validation of players’ qualification. Thus, this Protest is in fact a case of an alleged violation of Articles 16(a) and 16(b) of the FA Cup Regulations.

The said Articles of the FA Cup Regulations read as follows:

Article 16(a) “The Disciplinary Committee shall have power to call upon a Player, and/or the Club to which he is registered, or for which he played, to prove that the Player is qualified according to these Regulations and any other Regulations of the GFA”.

Article 16(b) “Failing satisfactory proof, the Disciplinary Committee may disqualify such Player, and may remove the Club from the FA Cup, and impose such other penalty as it considers appropriate. The Disciplinary Committee shall also have the power to impose penalties against Clubs already knocked out of the FA Cup.

It is clear from the foregoing that Tema Youth FC can only succeed if Great Astronomers have breach the above provisions of the FA Cup Regulations. This clearly places the instance Protest under Article 30(b) of the FA Cup Regulations and thus warrants the fulfilment of the two-day deadline for filing the instant protest.

Our position is further fortified by the view that it is trite law of interpretation that specific legislation or rule supersedes general legislation or rule. Thus the protest requirement in the FA Cup Regulation made specifically for the FA Cup competition would hold sway over the general regulation in the General Regulations of the GFA.

It is the finding of this Committee that the Petitioner filed the protest on Monday, March 23, 2015 for a match played on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. It is therefore clear that the Petitioner failed to file the protest within two days after the match as stipulated in the FA Cup Regulations. Consequently, this Protest shall fail in accordance with the provisions of Article 30(b) of the FA Cup Regulations as any protest not filed within the stipulated time shall not be entertained”.

It is also quite clear from the Committee’s finding that the player concerned was qualified as defined by the provisions stated by the Petitioner at the time he played the match. The Committee holds that the Protest will equally fail on this ground.

The Committee therefore makes the following decisions:

3. That for failing to file the Protest within two (2) days after the said match as stipulated by Article 30(b) of the FA Cup Regulations and also for failing to prove that Safiyanu Kitcher was an unqualified player at the time of the match, the Protest of Tema Youth FC was filed out of time and is hereby dismissed.

4. That the match result shall stand.
5. That there shall be no order as to cost.
6. That any party which is dissatisfied with this Decision has within two (2) days of being notified of this Decision to appeal to the Appeals Committee (see Article 31(b) of the FA Cup Regulations).

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