AmaZulu’s points saga may throw PSL into yet another quagmire

STATING THEIR CASE AmaZulu players, led by Marc van Heerden, argue with the referee during a league game. Picture: Anesh Debiky / gallo images
STATING THEIR CASE AmaZulu players, led by Marc van Heerden, argue with the referee during a league game. Picture: Anesh Debiky / gallo images

Another twist is appearing in the disciplinary matters threatening the Absa Premiership title race and the battle for survival, with AmaZulu arguing that the six points docked by Fifa must be reinstated.

An email by Fifa, dated March 12, instructs Safa to deduct points from AmaZulu’s “legal successor”, Richards Bay, and not AmaZulu.

The world governing body requested Safa to provide proof of the points deduction by March 26 “to ensure that the rights of any other club that may have been affected up to this date – if any – are duly restored.”

The six points were docked from AmaZulu in September, on Fifa’s instruction, because of a contract dispute involving the club’s former player, Namibia’s Phinheas Nambandi.

However, the Durban club claims that Nambandi’s contract was with AmaZulu Football Club Pty Ltd, but the team is now owned by a different entity, Lyrastar Investments.

The change came about when AmaZulu purchased Thanda Royal Zulu status in July 2017. City Press has seen correspondence showing how AmaZulu had been pursuing the matter with Fifa up to March 8.

AmaZulu’s lawyers argue that the punishment – in terms of points being docked – was unwarranted on the grounds that action was taken against a club which was not a party to any of the adjudicative processes, which also involved the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

Fifa’s email said: “Richards Bay Football Club can be considered the legal successor of the AmaZulu Football Club that belonged to AmaZulu Pty Ltd.”

The world governing body said the decision by its disciplinary committee to dock the points in August last year was applied on “the club AmaZulu FC that belongs to Lyrastar Investments Pty Ltd”, and “cannot be considered as the legal successor of the club AmaZulu Football Club that belonged to AmaZulu Football Club Pty Ltd”.

The PSL had informed Fifa that Khabeni Projects – trading as Richards Bay FC – had not been notified by Safa or the league of the proceedings.

In the midst of all this, AmaZulu’s lawyers deduced that Safa “did not apply its mind” and “merely passed on correspondence to Fifa”.

AmaZulu’s struggles in the league triggered a follow-up query in February, in which the club’s legal representatives said the lack of feedback from Fifa was extremely concerning and that their client was prejudiced.

This prompted Fifa to lash out at Safa, saying it was the “responsibility of Safa to be aware of the legal status of its affiliated clubs.”

AmaZulu’s general manager, Lunga Sokhela, said yesterday that the club could not comment as the matter was between Safa and Fifa. He referred City Press to the two football governing bodies. “We are focused on planning for next season because the matter has been dragging on for a long time. Direct your questions to Fifa and Safa,” he said.

But when City Press told him that Safa had said the matter was closed, Sokhela asked: “Who closed it?”

“The matter was closed as far as all parties are concerned,” Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul told City Press this week. “Safa duly complied, through the National Soccer League, with the original directive from Fifa timeously.

“The implementation of the decision is public knowledge in that AmaZulu were docked points, in terms of the Fifa directive, for failing to comply with a disciplinary committee and CAS decision.”

Attempts by City Press to reach Fifa were unsuccessful by the time of going to print.

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