By Carlos Kambaekwa
The protracted off the field battle involving Black Africa and African Stars is far from over despite several attempts by the MTC Namibia Premier League to reschedule the ill-fated match.
At the centre of the storm is the prematurely abandoned MTC Namibia Premiership first round league match which was to have taken place between the two Katutura giants in November last year.
The match failed to take place after Black Africa vehemently protested against the presence of FIFA accredited referee Mathew Katjimune, whom they accused of having taken a yet to be identified substance that would have allegedly rendered him unfit to handle the particular game.
The league would have none of it and resolved to haul Black Africa before the Disciplinary Committee to answer two charges of misconduct relating to causing the match to be abandoned and bringing the game of football into disrepute.
However, Africa got off the hook before they could even present their case as their defence counsel Otniel Podewiltz challenged the legality of the disciplinary proceedings and rightly pointed out the lapsing of the time-frame in which his client was supposed to have been charged.
The Namibian Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee acceded to the argument and summarily dismissed the charges against the respondents on that technicality – leaving the claimant, in this case, the country’s football controlling body fuming.
The NFA vehemently contested the decision but the appeal was upheld by its own Appeals Board – thus leaving the beleaguered association with more egg on the face.
African Stars, as the chief aggrieved party was not exactly impressed with the proceedings and challenged the fashion in which the league went about its business.
Stars’ long-serving chairman Mbakumua Hengari remains unmoved and believes the league erred big time by sidestepping Rule 7 points 1 and 2, which stipulates that where a league match is not played or when a league match is abandoned, the executive committee or the relevant member or league shall decide on the course of action to be taken.
The decision of the executive committee or of a member taken under Rule 7 point 1 may at the written request of a party to the dispute be reviewed, by the executive committee of the association which shall in accordance with Part 111 of the NFA Rules take a final decision.
“Our argument is strictly based on Rule 7, which clearly stipulates that the executive committee of any member or of the association, on the basis of a report submitted by a match official or match commissioner and when the executive committee of the member or of the association is reasonably satisfied that an offence or misconduct has been committed, have the power to impose a sanction.”
Hengari is adamant his team should have been awarded the three points since their opponents were chief architects behind the premature abandonment of the match – hence the league’s decision to charge them accordingly.
“The rules are very clear, failure to fulfill a league match is punishable with forfeiture of the points and the points and two goals to be awarded to the opposing club plus a further fine of not exceeding N$1000, so what is the fuss all about?” charged a clearly irritated Hengari .
Furthermore, Stars have fingered the Namibian Premier League as functus officio to preside over their protest and requested the matter to be referred to the executive committee of the Namibian Football Association (NFA) for a final decision.
Both teams are currently chasing the coveted MTC Namibia Premiership title with Black Africa in a more favourable position and should the country’s football authorities decide to reverse the decision in Stars’ favour – it could have a serious dent in Africa’s title hopes while it could revive the Reds’ fading title aspirations.