By Carlos Kambaekwa
The dust refuses to settle in the protracted dispute between the Copper Town’s former glamour football club Eclipse Chief Santos and the country’s football authorities.
The club’s management has accused the Namibian Football Association (NFA) of rejecting their appeal over the alleged unlawful deduction of three (3) points and two (2) goals previously allocated to Santos by the Northern Stream division One League.
Supporters of the club are now threatening to stage a peaceful demonstration under the vanguard of the club’s Supporters’ Committee to register their anger over the apparent “unfair treatment” meted out to their beloved team.
The former Namibia Premier League champions were in pole position to win the Northern Stream League as the green and orange outfit looked forward to a quick return to top flight football following the team’s shock relegation from the country’s elite league at the end of the 2002005/2006 season.
At the centre of storm is the withdrawal of Robber Chanties from the league during the second half of the season. The Khorixas-based team has cited financial difficulties as chief reason for their withdrawal from league activities.
The log standings of the first round clearly indicates the completion of all league fixtures with eleven matches played, but the league administrators made a sudden U-turn and resolved to nullify all results involving Chanties.
The decision angered Santos’ management who are now seeking refuge in the league statutes that clearly state that should a team withdraw from league activities or be expelled after completion of first round activities – the results of the of the first round shall stand.
A clearly disappointed Santos coach Max Johnson says rule 10.8 (b) of the NFA rules applies in such an event but surprisingly the rule was reportedly concocted to apply contrary to the spirit of the game and instead rule 10.8 (a) was applied.
The former rule (10.8 (b) states, “When a club withdraws or is expelled from a league after the team has played all the other clubs in the league at least once, the results of all second round league matches involving the club shall be expunged from the league tables, as if that club had never played during the second round of the soccer season in question.”
Johnson adds that the correspondence that were circulated between the NFA and the Northern Stream League Committee, however conveniently combined provisions of the separate rules to deliberately sabotage the full meaning of the NFA rules.
“The officials certainly seem to undermine the value of the rules which are recognized by FIFA and cannot be amended they way they did it. It is a very irresponsible conduct aimed at promoting nepotism through corrupt means simply to advantage one team at the expense of our team.”
Santos accuses some NFA top brass of having joined hands with the “surgical team” to disown the meaning of the NFA rules and regulations.
Some team management committee members are now appealing for the suspension of the disciplinary advisor and his entire committee members for apparently acting against the spirit of the NFA rules.
The soft spoken mentor pulled no punches and says Santos got relegated from top flight football a few years ago because of showing on the field of play and accepted their ordeal like Brave Warriors, but could not understand the rationale behind the manoeuvres to block his team from re-entering the country’s elite league.
“We suffered like any other team in the past and consequently we regrouped and are ready to take our rightful place amongst the country’s best as we have certainly re-engineered our engine room with fresh strategies.”
The former Brave Warriors caretaker coach says his team might be forced to seek recourse in a court of law should the dispute not be dealt with in the most appropriate fashion.
A highly furious chairperson of Santos’ Supporters Club, Karl Damaseb, minced no words and fingers NFA Acting Secretary General of the NFA Barry Rukoro for his apparent unprofessional conduct in the manner in which he handled the application for Santos’ appeal.
Damaseb says Rukoro negotiated in bad faith through his correspondence dated April 18 and June 05, 2008 respectively to Santos in which he allegedly stated that the club does not have a case through their appeal bid – prompting Damaseb to ask whether Rukoro has indeed replaced the Appeals Committee.
“We were expecting a written verdict from the Appeals Committee and certainly not from the Acting Secretary General. I think this man is taking us for granted, this matter is very serious and we are going to exhaust all avenues to challenge the NFA and the spin doctors.”
The chairperson further questioned the absence of the Northern Stream Division One log standings, claiming that soccer lovers and supporters of teams campaigning in this particular division are equally entitled to such information through the media.
Santos further called upon the NFA to pronounce itself on the outcome of its findings as to what triggered the cancellation of the Copper Town derby between Santos and cross-town rivals Benfica on the 3rd of May.
The match was called off after the match commissioner complained about the absence of security personnel at the field midway through the match with the
scoreboard still goalless at the time. Santos claims that since it was Benfica’s home game, it was their baby to organize security.
Victory for Santos in the outstanding fixture against Benfica would secure them promotion to the elite league irrespective of the deducted 3 points from their victory against Robber Chanties. Attempts to get comment from Rukoro drew blank as his mobile went unanswered.