The GFA Appeals Committee has dismissed Tema Youth’s appeal against the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to dismiss their protest against Dreams FC.
MR. EMMANUEL EFFAH ANNAN – CHAIRMAN
MR. KWAME TAKYI – MEMBER
ALHAJI SEIDU SALIFU – MEMBER
MR. DIVINE KWAKU SUNU – MEMBER
MR. VINCENT EBO AIKINS – MEMBER
MR. DANIEL ODURO – SECRETARY
The parties presented their submissions on the appropriate forms from the Ghana Football Association.
1. This is an appeal against the decision of the Disciplinary Committee(DC) dated 17th August, 2015 by which the DC dismissed a protest filed by the appellants seeking the respondents to be declared as having forfeited their GN Bank Division One League Match day 24 game played at Kweiman Park for fielding two unqualified players, namely, Johnson Owusu Oppong and Cudjoe Mensah in the said match. The appellants alleged that the respondents perpetrated fraud in the registration of these players for falsification of their names and dates of birth.
2. The record before us indicates that the appellants did not attach any evidence in proof of the allegation of fraud but indicated that they would adduce further evidence later but failed to do so.
3. The DC’s dismissal of the protest was grounded on the finding that the appellants failed to prove or establish any case of fraud against the respondents.
4. After a careful evaluation of the record before us, it is our view that the key issue arising from the protest is whether or not those players were unqualified when they featured for the respondents in the said match.
5. An “unqualified player” is defined under article 29 (1) (a) of the General Regulations of the Ghana Football Association as follows:
“1. An unqualified player is:
a) Any player not registered at an association who appears for a club in any official match. Without prejudice to any measure required to rectify the sporting consequences of such an appearance, sanctions may also be imposed on the player and/or the Club. The right to impose such sanctions lies in principle with the association or the organizer of the competition concerned.
b) A player suspended by the GFA from participating in football competitions indefinitely or for a specific period
c) A player banned from participating in competitions organized by WAFU, CAF, FIFA
d) A player who has registered for more than one club or with any clubregistered with another National Association
e) A player who has received a caution in three separate official matches of the FA (i.e the League and the FA Cup Competitions)
f) A player who has received a direct red card in a match
g) A player who has received two cautions in the same match
6. Again, article 29 (2) (a) of the said Regulations prohibits the use of unqualified players in competitions organized by the GFA. It provides thus;
“An unqualified player shall not take part in any competition organized by the Association”.
7. It is also provided under article 26 (3) (e) as follows:
“A club shall be deemed to be the bona fide holder of the registration of a player only upon receipt of his registration card duly issued by the Ghana Football Association”.
8. It is clear from the above provisions that for the appellants to succeed in their protest, they must establish that the player was unqualified under any of the provisions indicated above.
9. In the instant case, it is indisputable that those players were registered with the GFA before they featured in the said match. Besides, the appellants have not been able to establish that those players were caught by any of the provisions under article 29 (1) (a) as reproduced above.
10. Accordingly, it is our considered opinion that the players were qualified to play the said match, and therefore, the respondents cannot be declared to have forfeited the match under article 34 (1) (e) of the GFA General Regulations.
11. Besides, we agree with the finding of the DC to the effect that no fraud was established by the appellants against the respondents as a club, as the appellants failed to produce any evidence before the DC to substantiate that allegation.
12. The appellants’ argument that they did not have opportunity to furnish the DC with further evidence because the respondents failed to file a statement of defence is untenable. It must be stressed that the filing of the statement of defence and reply is optional and a party is not bound to file them if it considers it unnecessary in the circumstances. A party is therefore required to submit all evidence necessary to substantiate its case when it files a protest but not to hold onto the evidence and decide to introduce the evidence upon the filing of a response to its protest.
13. In the result, it is our view that the decision of the DC, as it relates to the claim for forfeiture of the match, is amply supported by evidence on record and same is accordingly upheld.
14. However, we do not agree with the DC that the protest was frivolous so as to attract an imposition of a fine of One Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢1000.00) under article 37(16) of the GFA General Regulations. Accordingly, the fine of One Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢1000.00) imposed by the DC on the appellants is hereby set aside.
15. It is also our view that the award of costs against parties in cases where matters initiated by parties other than the GFA are found to be frivolous is more appropriate than the imposition of fines which, unless expressly provided for under the regulations, ought to be reserved for matters initiated by the GFA for acts of misconduct or any other offence.
16. We, however, refer, pursuant to article 29 (2) (c) of the GFA General Regulations, the conduct of the players regarding the allegation of falsification of data of the players, particularly with respect to their names and dates of birth to the GFA through their Prosecutor for further investigation and preferment of appropriate charges, if any, before the DC.
17. The said article 29 (2) (c), relating to all cases of unqualified player provides that;
“2. (c ) With prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision of this Article, the Association shall in all cases locate and punish the guilty party/parties. In the event of the player being the sole guilty party, the results of the match which he played shall stand.”
18. Save the setting aside of the fine imposed against the appellants, the appeal is hereby dismissed.