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Matlama elevates protest


…Takes mater to the international court for arbitration of sports

Chris Theko

Following the dismissal of the Maseru-based Matlama FC appeal by the Court for Arbitration of Sports, the team’s Public Relations Officer, Tankiso Moletsane said the club has decided to go all the way to the International Court of Arbitration (CAS) for Sports if needs be in their pursuit for justice.

“The executive committee has decided to take the matter to CAS if we must but first we will seek assistance from the Confederation of African Football (CAF),” Moletsane said. 

Moletsane said the club will not rest until they get justice and “should we not get help at CAF, we have already decided that we shall go all the way to Switzerland,” added Moletsane. 

According to Moletsane, they only want LeFA to apply the law as it is and not change it to suit certain parties and not everyone.   He said the law can only be changed if it was amended and everyone was aware.

The court of arbitration for sports dismissed Matlama FC’s appeal against the Lesotho Football Association’s (LeFA) decision to end the 2019/20 Econet Premier League (EPL) season prematurely and crowning Bantu FC as the Champions.

Matlama lodged a protest in July following LeFA’s decision to end the league and immediately crowned Bantu as league champions while not relegating the two bottom-placed teams on the log.    

The Maseru based outfit were challenging the resolutions on the grounds that “the decision to end the league EPL season henceforth and declare Bantu champions is in contravention of article 3.1 read with article 22.1 to 22.3 inclusive of the Lesotho premier league and A Division rules and regulations as (As amended).

“The decision to the effect that there will not be any relegations for the current season is contrary to article 2.1.3 of the Lesotho Premier League and A Division rules and regulations 2019 (As amended). 

“The resolution in its entirety undermines the spirit of football fairness and merit. The resolution in its entirety was made arbitrarily and irrationally without the consideration of other reasonable alternatives…” reads the protest. 

The case was dismissed by the Disciplinary and Protests Committee (DISPROCO) but the Maseru based outfit did not accept the ruling and filed for an appeal which was later on thrown out of the window by the appeal board. 

From that point Matlama then took the matter to the arbitration tribunal early September and the judgement was handed down on Friday and the case was again dismissed with costs. 

“It is clear that the appellant’s arguments amount to accepting that Bantu should enjoy all the benefits of a team that has won the league without it being bestowed with the honor of being declared champions and crowned. 

“The question is whether the NEC’s decision to crown Bantu can be said to be grossly unreasonable, unfair and one that not properly advised committee in the situation of the NEC could have arrived at.  The fact that Matlama does not agree with the decision to crown Bantu does not necessarily render it bad and unfair.  The decision must be treated on its facts and merits.”

The judgement further indicated that Bantu stood a good chance of winning the league than Matlama given the points difference between the two sides.  

“As indicated earlier, it is common cause that at the time of suspension of the league Bantu was at the summit of the log and had opened a gap of 16 points ahead of Matlama.  Both teams were left with eight games to play.  It would have made a difference if the team crowned had no reasonable prospects of winning the league.  Bantu was most likely to win the league. 

“The decision can neither be viewed as grossly unreasonable nor unfair given the wide gap between the two teams and the decision is consistent with the other resolution. 

“For the foregoing reasons we find that Matlama has failed to discharge its onus of proving that the NEC’s decision was erroneous and unfair and we accordingly dismiss its appeal with costs,” reads the judgement. 

LeFA ended all soccer activities in March on the back of the Covid-19 outbreak.  When the league was ended, Bantu was leading the Econet Premier League with 50 points and defending Champions, Matlama was in second position with 34 points and eight games remaining.  

Matlama’s outcry is, champions cannot be declared when the league did not play to the end and that should be rectified henceforth and they remain the rightful Champions.    

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