By Carlos Kambaekwa
In a dramatic turn, Ali Akan and his beefy Namibian contingent at embattled Professional Soccer League bound AK FC has been thrown another lifeline after the PSL arbitration board overturned an earlier decision to demote the ambitious club to South Africa’s third tier division following allegations of bribery.
At the centre of the dispute is the club’s alleged involvement in attempting to bribe Black Aces’ veteran goalkeeper Michel Babale, to throw a match between his club and AK FC.
The protracted case led to the PSL Dispute Resolution Chamber ruling in favour of Babale and the chief complainant Black Aces, and resolved to slap the club’s boss Aziz Kara with a 30-year ban from all football-related activities while the club was further fined with a N$500,000 and demoted to the Vodacom League.
The club would have none of it and took their case to the appeals board, which in turn upheld the verdict and rubbed salt into the wound by turning the 30-year ban into a life ban on the club’s beleaguered owner before slapping him with a further N$10,000 fine for expenses incurred by the PSL’s Disciplinary Committee and the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) appeals board.
Following the intervention of the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) to save the club from going down to the lower division, the club was docked 15 points and retained its National Division One status.
Kara challenged the decision and took his case to an arbitrator, which has now exonerated the club from any wrongdoing while it also reduced Kara’s life ban to ten years. However, Kara’s fine of N$500,000 remains intact.
AK FC won the Inland Stream Division One League and will now meet Coastal Stream winners Maritzburg United to determine the winner for automatic promotion to the South African elite league, next season.
The loser will join both runners-up from the respective streams together with the 2nd last placed team from the PSL, in this case, Hartman Toromba and Ephraim Tjihonge’s Black Leopards for the remaining PSL berth.
Speaking to New Era Sports from Johannesburg yesterday, a clearly over the moon Akan could not contain his joy and said justice finally prevailed.
AK FC celebrated their boardroom victory with a well-deserved 3-1 win over the Namibian Brave Warriors in a warm-up match in Johannesburg, yesterday.