By Robson Sharuko
CHAMPIONS Dynamos have won a landmark battle in their bid to defend their Premiership crown, after emerging triumphant from their boardroom battle against Hwange, over the fate of the league match between the two sides at Rufaro on May 6 this year.
The Glamour Boys swept to the top of the Premiership table, for the first time this season, after the Zifa Appeals Committee threw out the order by the Premier Soccer League disciplinary committee to nullify the result of the match.
DeMbare beat Hwange 4-2 in a match marred by the alleged assault of Hwange coach, Nation Dube, by three Dynamos marshals just before the game.
The Harare giants now have the same number of points (46) as Highlanders but, with their 4-2 victory over Hwange now restored as a valid result, they go top by virtue of a superior goal difference (+30) compared to (+28) for Bosso.
The PSL disciplinary committee had nullified the result of that match, ordering a replay at a neutral venue and slapping Dynamos with a US$2 000 fine after holding the champions responsible for the wayward behaviour of their marshals and ruling that their actions had a bearing on the result.
The disciplinary committee upheld Hwange’s argument that the result of the match was influenced by the barbaric attack on their coaches to the extent that when the game was played their players were under siege and badly traumatised to such a degree that they did not perform to the expected standards.
The coal-miners also cited the way Fifa dealt with the 1994 World Cup qualifier between Zimbabwe and Egypt in Cairo, which was marred by crowd trouble leading to the attack on coach Reinhard Fabisch and goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, as a precedent.
Fifa nullified the result of that match, won 2-1 by Egypt, and ordered a replay at a neutral venue in Lyon, France, where the Warriors held the Pharaohs to a goal-less draw to move into the final qualifying round.
Dynamos, whose heads of appeal were prepared by their secretary-general, Ray Kazembe, argued that Dube was also at fault in the tunnel fracas that erupted as he allegedly man-handled goalkeeper Washington Arubi, who was the club captain on the day, after having earlier blocked his path to the dressing room.
While DeMbare acknowledged that Dube was pinned to the wall by their marshals, and even made a phone call after being released from that grip, they claimed he exaggerated the gravity of the attack and only feigned serious injury when he saw the media crew converging on the scene.
The Harare giants questioned why the Dynamos marshals, key figures in the dispute, were not summoned to the hearing the PSL disciplinary committee and a decision was then passed, based on what they were alleged to have done, without them presenting their side of the story.
DeMbare claimed that the chairman of the PSL disciplinary committee was allegedly biased against them and also questioned the committee’s reliance on evidence presented by the fourth official given that he was not a witness to the events that unfolded in the tunnel.
Crucially, the Glamour Boys challenged claims by Hwange that the marshals had paid admission of guilty fines, questioned why a determination was reached on Dube’s attack without the aid of a medical report and questioned how the coach, if he had been badly injured, returned from hospital to watch the match from the stands.
DeMbare also argued that if the Egypt/Zimbabwe game could be used as a precedent, then the Zifa Appeals Committee should also consider their Champions League final against Asec Mimosas in Abidjan where their skipper, Memory Mucherahowa, was assaulted just before the match and missed the game after being rushed to hospital.
Ironically, just like Hwange, Dynamos lost that game 2-4 and their appeal to Caf to have the result overturned on the basis of the attack on Mucherahowa was dismissed.
The Zifa Appeals Committee of Tererai Gunje (chairman), Tim Sangarwe (secretary) and Pepukai Mabundu (member), heavily criticised the PSL disciplinary committee for the way they handled this dispute.
“The record will bear testimony that there was an assault that took place. We are not sure how the assailants were apprehended because the same record does not state exactly what transpired and the witness, whose testimony the disciplinary committee relied heavily on, was also not present when the incident happened,” reads the Zifa Appeals Committee judgment.
“We must hasten to mention, in passing, that the disciplinary committee of the PSL did a shoddy job in dealing with this matter.
“For how does one justify the decision of the disciplinary committee to penalise the three mentioned Dynamos marshals without summoning them to the hearing in the first place?
“Although the three said marshals were not properly before us (they have not appealed against the decision of the disciplinary committee), it is imperative not to shy away from the obvious fact that they are or were an integral part of the proceedings, since they are the alleged assailants.
“The right to be heard, before a decision is made against you, is a fundamental right in terms of our law and any other law for that matter. It dates back to the Biblical times of Adam and Eve.
“When Adam and Eve sinned in the biblical Garden of Eden, God did not immediately banish the two. He asked them to explain their conduct. In other words, God gave them an opportunity to proffer their defence before punishing them. The approach has been adopted into our law and we cannot run away from the obvious.
“We are rather disturbed that the disciplinary committee of the PSL, composed of seasoned legal and football administrative minds, would fail to appreciate the obvious.
“In as much as we are not condoning the behaviour of the assailants herein, we wish to make it abundantly clear that the disciplinary committee ought to have charged these marshals individually and invited them to attend a hearing in that capacity before trying them in absentia, finding them guilty and penalising them like what happened in casu.”
The Zifa Appeals Committee said there were no records of any psychological examinations carried out on the Hwange players to reach a determination, without compromise, that they were traumatised during the match in question.
While Dynamos were responsible for the behaviour of their marshals and guilty of bringing football into disrepute, which warranted a punishment, the Zifa Appeals Committee felt that nullifying the result, without having heard from the marshals and without medical reports to support the degree of the trauma suffered by the Hwange players, was grossly unfair.
Crucially, Hwange did not lead their players to give evidence as proof of the degree of the trauma they suffered.
“Whilst we applaud the disciplinary committee for finding Dynamos Football Club guilty and penalising same, we find no logic in accepting that the result of the match should be nullified,” read the judgment.
“No evidence has been adduced to convince us that Hwange Football Club players were so traumatised that they did not concentrate in the match.
“For a team which played so well as submitted and not denied, and even scored twice in the match, we find the nullification of the score-line without merit, particular regard being (given) to the fact that no evidence of the alleged trauma was ever adduced before the disciplinary committee or before ourselves.
“We have not been told that the conditions at Rufaro were so hostile against Hwange Football Club as to rendering the staging of the league match impossible. The referee’s report does not state so and we are thus not inclined to buy into the assertion by Hwange Football Club in relation to their reliance on the Egypt vs Zimbabwe match.
“We are inclined to disagree with the disciplinary committee in that respect. The following is thus ordered, as a result:
That Dynamos Football Club is hereby found guilty of contravening Order 31.1.23, as read with Order 31.2, 31.2.1 and 31.2.17 of the PSL Rules and Regulations.
Dynamos Football Club be and is hereby ordered to pay a fine of US$2000, US$1 000 of which is suspended for the rest of the season on condition Dynamos Football Club is not convicted of a similar offence within the same period. The fine must be paid within fourteen days of this judgment.
The Result of the match be and is hereby confirmed as Dynamos Football Club 4, Hwange Football Club 2.”
The Zifa Appeals Committee said they still expect to see the Dynamos marshals, involved in that incident, being charged and summoned to appear before the PSL disciplinary committee. The Herald
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