FUZ intervene in Epoupa saga
By Petros Kausiyo
As the Christian Epoupa saga rages on, the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe have leapt to the defence of the Dynamos striker and have stepped in to try and break the impasse between the two parties.
Epoupa wants to be released from his contract, which is due to expire in December, with the big forward claiming he cannot continue “to endure the kind of frustration he has experienced since last year”.
FUZ president, Desmond Maringwa, said yesterday they were now actively involved on Epoupa’s behalf.
Maringwa said FUZ had already begun discussions with the Dynamos leadership and defended Epoupa, arguing that the striker had been professional in his conduct during the period of his contractual dispute with the club.
“He came with his case and we are trying to look and see how it can be resolved and I think it can be resolved amicably,” said Maringwa.
“We have engaged Dynamos and we are trying to find an amicable solution to it.
“The player notified the club of the contractual obligations they had breached on three different occasions and nothing was done about it until his work permit expired.
“He has had to seek a 30-day stay in the country on a normal visa so we are looking to find the best way that the parties can resolve this matter without it dragging into a legal route.”
Maringwa bemoaned the fact that domestic football was yet to institute a Dispute Resolution Chamber, which could have been handling such a case and that of defender Lawrence Mhlanga who has been in limbo for nearly one-and-a-half years.
“In the case of Epoupa, he has terminated his contract of employment and that has a labour perspective to it, but football has its statutes too and if the player and the club do not agree the matter would have to be directed to the Dispute Resolution Chamber or take a legal route in the Labour Court.
“Given that he is a foreigner who is having problems with a club, the case would be directed to the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and as FUZ we will assist him to pursue that if no amicable solution is found from the ongoing talks with Dynamos.
“Christian has been professional in his conduct, he has continued to train with the club and only missed the matches while he was trying to get the matter to be resolved and when Dynamos did not renew his work permit he decided he had had enough and terminated the contract,” Maringwa said.
Should the matter be referred to FIFA, Dynamos would have to satisfy the world soccer governing body that they are not on the wrong end of the Regulation and Status of Transfer of Players.
Article 22 of those regulations which deals with FIFA’s competence to preside over such matters reads:
Without prejudice to the right of any player or club to seek redress before a civil court for employment-related disputes, FIFA is competent to hear:
(a) disputes between clubs and players in relation to the maintenance of contractual stability (articles 13-18) where there has been an ITC request and a claim from an interested party in relation to said ITC request, in particular regarding the issue of the ITC, sporting sanctions or compensation for breach of contract;
(b) employment-related disputes between a club and a player of an international dimension, unless an independent arbitration tribunal guaranteeing fair proceedings and respecting the principle of equal representation of players and clubs has been established at national level within the framework of the association and/or a collective bargaining agreement.
The FIFA statutes also provide guidelines in Articles 15 and 16 of the same regulations on the termination of a contract for a Just Cause and for a sporting cause.
FIFA statutes also deal with termination of a contract with a Sporting Cause.
“An established professional who has, in the course of the season, appeared in fewer than ten percent of the official matches in which his club has been involved may terminate his contract prematurely on the ground of sporting just cause,” the statutes say.
“In such a case, sporting sanctions shall not be imposed, though compensation may be payable.
“A professional may only terminate his contract on this basis in the 15 days following the last official match of the season of the club with which he is registered.” The Herald