By Trevor Makonyonga
It seems being in bed with the master has paid off for Herentals Football Club who have been given a second dance under the moon after the ZIFA appeals committee reversed the PSL judgement which had ruled that Herentals be chucked out of the top flight.
The scandal between Herentals, The Students, and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has stretched for about half a year now. In the same period the club has partnered ZIFA to renovate stadiums.
With the obvious conflict of interest being ignored, ZIFA threw the decision of sending out out of the window and went on to claim that the PSL was being unfair.
In reversing the judgement, ZIFA pointed out some irregularities in the consistency of the initial judgement citing possible grudges and animosity from the top flight league towards The Students.
The ZIFA Appeals Board agreed that Herentals were guilty of taking football matters to ordinary courts, but were totally against he team’s relegation.
In the judgement statement released by ZIFA, the PSL is accused of having had some “animosity and some underlying vendetta” against the Harare based team.
The statement reads, “Clearly, all the circumstances left the Appeals Board with a sense that there was some animosity and some underlying vendetta against the Appellant by the PSL disciplinary committee.”
“The Appellant pleaded guilty and had also publicly communicated that it had instructed its legal practitioner to withdraw the Application for Review from the High Court.
“The filing of the withdrawal was delayed by the Appellant’s legal practitioner due to their lawyer-client relation.
“The Appellant did not proceed to prosecute the Application For review to finality. The Appellant clearly showed remorse for having taken that dispute to the ordinary courts of law.
“The PSL disciplinary committee should also have taken all these mitigating circumstances of the Appellant into coming with an appropriate sentence.
“Why would the Appellant be sentenced to pay a huge fine and then, after paying that amount, they would be expelled from being a member of the PSL?
“This was clearly double punishment.
“The PSL disciplinary committee failed to place sufficient weight on the mitigating factors. The PSL disciplinary committee had a duty not to compromise the right of the offender, who pleaded guilty to leniency.
The ZIFA Appeals Board, led by lawyer Stead Kachere and whose three other members are Rodin Mzyece, Fadzai Wuta Mageza and Givemore Nyahuma, ruled that:
1) The conviction of the Appellant made by the PSL disciplinary committee on March 24, 2020, for contravening Article 53 of the PSL Statutes, is upheld.
2) The fine imposed by the PSL disciplinary committee upon the Appellant is hereby altered and it is hereby ordered that the Appellant shall pay a fine of $70 000 by the 31st of July 2020.
3) The expulsion of the Appellant from being a member of the Premier Soccer League is hereby set aside and the expulsion is suspended on condition that the Appellant should not, within a period of five years from the date of this judgment, commit the same offence of taking football disputes to the ordinary courts of law.
4) Since both parties succeeded in part, regarding the Appeal, therefore it was ordered that each party shall bear its own costs.
“Having gone through the respective parties’ arguments and the provisions of Article 49 (4) of the PSL statutes, it is the ZIFA Appeals Board’s view that the wording of Article 49 (4) of the PSL statutes is vague,’’ read the judgment.
“Clearly, it states that ‘these provisions are subject to the disciplinary committee powers of Congress and the Executive Committee with regards to suspension and expulsion of members.’
“The provisions being referred to are those to do with the disciplinary committee, However, what is lacking in the PSL statutes is what the Congress and the Emergency Committee will do when the disciplinary committee expels or suspends a member.
“There is no provision that gives Congress and the Emergency Committee powers to review, overturn or confirm the PSL disciplinary committee’s decision.
“The ZIFA Appeals Board will leave the PSL and its members to amend its statutes so that it is clear. On that issue, the ZIFA Appeals Board moves for an order of absolution from the instance.’’
Herentals had appealed that a similar offence had been done by other PSL clubs but had not been judged in the same manner as them.
To these claims the appeals board said, “ZIFA Appeals Board agrees it’s not a defence to say others who committed a similar offence were not charged or punished.”
Herentals have been involved in various projects which have assisted ZIFA like offering scholarships to young Mighty Warriors. Recently they have helped in the refurbishments of stadia which could cast some doubts on the objectivity of the judgement.