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02.06.2007 General News

Without Prejudice

The decision by the Appeals Committee of the Ghana Football Association to remit or refer back to the Disciplinary Committee its earlier decision to ban Nania FC and others for alleged match-fixing may have come as a severe blow to the image of the FA's judicial system.

Especially for the Disciplinary Committee which is being asked to re-examine its earlier decision for failing to follow the basic fundamental steps necessary for the determination of the matter, the Appeals Committee's directive may have come to it as a vote of no confidence.

Indeed, such a crucial directive coming in the wake of some earlier controversial decisions by the Disciplinary Committee may have justified the calls by aggrieved parties for re-examination of recent decisions handed out by the Disciplinary Committee.

One of such decisions which was also a fall-out from the infamous Middle League matches was the protest by Bolga Catholic Stars against Wa All Stars for using an unqualified player, Baba Gullit, which the Disciplinary Committee upheld and subsequently banned the player but curiously failed to strip the club that benefited from the services of the unqualified player of the points.

When this decision was announced, we humbly called for its re-examination based on other case studies which were not dissimilar yet in those cases the guilty player and the offending club both suffered punishment.

But back to the issue under review. Even though we think that the Appeals Committee may be justified by the directive that the case should go back for retrial it should not be lost that the directive has also raised wrong signals or interpretations among the soccer populace.

Since the decision many have gone ecstatic, celebrating victory for the clubs involved, and the belief that Nania for instance have been deemed qualified to play in the Premier League next season.

This is an unfortunate impression which must be corrected as quickly as possible so that when the Disciplinary Committee begins the retrial all parties and observers will be abreast of what is at stake.

If it is a retrial as we understand it in the layman's view, then the likelihood is that the Disciplinary Committee may arrive at the same verdict as before or the procedural steps now to be followed to the letter may perhaps lead to a different verdict altogether.

Another likelihood of the order for retrial is the fact that the membership of the Disciplinary Committee may not be the same as the first which decision had been appealed against. It may have to be reconstituted for good reasons.

For us, we think that by the very reference to it to go back to the basics is an indictment enough on the members and their ability to deliver justice, and whatever they come out with next may be taken with a pinch of salt.

That is why for their own good and hard-won image it will be advisable for the committee members to disengage themselves to allow for the reconstitution of a new committee to take a fresh look at this highly controversial case. This is without prejudice, we must say.