Kotoko relegation-trapped as Hearts of Oak win protest

The disciplinary committee of the Ghana Football Association has upheld Hearts of Oak’s protest against Asante Kotoko for fielding an unqualified player in a Ghana Premier League matchday 25 match.

The Phobians launched a charge against the Porcupine Warriors for fielding Obed Owusu in a clash at the Accra Sports Stadium on August 2, a tie lost 2-1 by the former Caf Champions League winners.

Owusu had received four yellow cards before the game, and was, thus, expected to serve a mandatory one-match suspension in the said game.

However, Kotoko maintain the attacker had earlier served the suspension in an Elite Cup game against Dunkwa United, an encounter the disciplinary committee says “did not constitute an official match”.

“Having found that Obed Owusu was unqualified to play against Hearts of Oak, the next question is to decide the consequences that follow from the act of Kotoko in fielding that unqualified player,” a disciplinary committee ruling read.

“The consequences of fielding an unqualified player are spelt out in Article 34 (1) (e) of the GFA General Regulations as leading to a forfeiture of the match played by the team which fielded the unqualified player, pursuant to a protest.

“Article 34(2) mandatorily requires that no matter the scores at the end of the match in question, the team which fielded an unqualified player shall be considered as having lost the match and three points and three goals shall be awarded in favour of the innocent team, unless the innocent team is leading by more than three goals at the time of the offence in which case the scores will stand.

“Three points and three goals are further required by Article 34(5)(a) to be deducted from the total accumulated points of the defaulting club. A fine of GH¢5,000 is also to be imposed if default was in respect of the Premier League.”

Previously occupying the third position, the Porcupine Warriors have dropped to 15th on the league log, having been docked six points, while previously 15th side Hearts move to the seventh spot.

“The Committee has no option but to apply the various punishments specified by the GFA Regulations,” the ruling continued.

“Accordingly, Hearts of Oak is awarded three points and three goals in respect of its 25th Week Premier League Match played against Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

“Three points and three goals are also deducted from the total accumulated points of Kotoko in the Premier League. A fine of GH¢5,000 is to be paid by Kumasi Asante Kotoko, half of which is to go to Hearts of Oak.

“The Committee is baffled by the conscious effort by Kotoko to ensure that Obed Owusu supposedly served his suspension in a match which, on a cursory reading of the relevant provisions, did not constitute an official match.”