19 Mar 2023  |   06:23am IST

Arbitration Tribunal red-cards GFA Sub-Committee’s Order

Demotion of YSC Colvale to Third Division quashed, set aside; Club permitted to participate in Second Division Bardez Zone season 2022-2023

Team Herald


PANJIM: The GFA's Arbitration Tribunal quashed and set aside the Order of the Goa Football Association (GFA) Sub - Committee headed by Caetano Fernandes directing Youth Sports Club of Colvale to play in the Third Division League Bardez Zone and declining its request to play in the Second Division League Bardez Zone. Further, it permitted the Club to participate in the Second Division League Bardez Zone in season 2022-23.

The Order signed by Adv Francisco Tavora (Chairman) of the Tribunal along with its members, Adv Anthony D'Silva and Adv Pritesh Shetty, restores the inherent right of YSC Colvale to remain in the Second Divison League Bardez Zone. 

The problem arose from fact that the Colvale club was directed by GFA to play in the Third Division League for the season 2022-23 as the request of the club to play in the Second Division League was rejected. The Letter dated 1.12.2022 was issued by the Acting General Secretary Adlear D'Cruz , who was at the helm of affairs much earlier to the GFA elections held in October last under the Interim President Anthony Pango. The appeal was filed by the Club on 31.12.2022.

The Tribunal's Order stated: "What set the cat amongst the pigeons is the seemingly innocuous GFA letter addressed to the Colvale club, dated 01.12.2022 signed by Adlear, conveying that although entry fee for participation in the Second Division League 2022-23 was paid by the Colvale club as per the finding and standings gathered from the records maintained by GFA, the Colvale club continued to remain in the Third Division League 2022-23. As such, the Colvale Club was called upon to field its team for participation in the Third Division league instead and simultaneously an offer was made to refund to Colvale Club the excess sum paid towards the participation fee."

The Colvale club subsequently on 4.12.2022 explained to the GFA why it had to be retained and be allowed to participate in the Second Division League Bardez Zone 2022-23. The club also produced the letter from GFA dated 5.12.2022 conveying the draw for the Third Division League 2022-23 Bardez Zone Group E matches, reiterating that the Colvale club should oblige by its participation. The Colvale club replied on 7.12.2022 expressing inability to participate in the Third Division League and that it should not be penalised for the purported administrative lapses committed by GFA administration. The Colvale club also requested for a personal hearing to resolve the issue and accordingly it was fixed for 13.12.2022.

GFA President Caetano and two other members, which surprisingly included Adlear, were present at the personal hearing. The decision of the personal hearing, declining the request of the club, was conveyed to the club on 23.12.2022.

The Tribunal observed that "while the stand-off between the parties was pending resolution and culminated in the final order only on 23.12.2022, the Third Division League for 2022-23 was allowed to commence with the first match of the Colvale club being scheduled on 18.12.2022. And, on date the 3rd Division League has concluded."

Such an unexpected happening drew the attention of the Tribunal, which said: "Feel constrained to make such an observation as we are presented with a fait accompli situation even before the commencement of the proceedings." It simply meant that something was already decided before those affected could know about it, leaving them with no option but to accept it.

Such being the scenario, the limited question falling for determination by the Tribunal was whether the appellant ought to be allowed to participate in the Second Division League for the season 2022-23 Bardez Zone. The Colvale club legitimately expected that it was deemed to have been promoted to the Second Division League of the season 2020-21 on culmination of the Third Division League Bardez Zone in season 2019-20 and this fact was confirmed in the Minutes of the GFA Executive Committee dated 24/09/2021which clearly showed the Colvale Club as the 9th team for season 2021-2022.

The Tribunal examined the rules and regulations of the Competition Rules right from season 2018-19 and expressed that "It cannot be disputed the decision of the Committee dated 12.05.2022 not to relegate teams was passed in order to take care of the unprecedented situation created by the 'Pandemic', without making adequate provision for the consequences likely to flow from such a decision, one such consequence being the adversity befalling the Colvale club."

The Tribunal laid stress on the GFA Statutes which lays emphasis that "the Executive Committee is expected to carry out the objectives of GFA and is expected therefore to take 'decisions' in all cases which come up for its consideration. Not taking a decision is not an option available to the Executive Committee who has a duty not only to pass a decision but also arrive at a decision which is categorical, forthright, unambiguous and not fraught with silence and which also does not have propensity to mislead and give scope for interpretation/misinterpretation by implication."

The Tribunal also relied on the GFA Statutes Article 58, "which empowers the Association to execute any act and deed that may be necessary for the progress of football and/or to enable the Association to meet any exigency and/or to carry into effect the intent and purposes of its Statutes and Regulations."

An interesting finding of the Tribunal is about the "GFA's admission that the Colvale club was not intimated about the Third Division Team Managers' Meeting, a circumstance which is bound to convey that the appellant has not been so intimated since it was understood that the club did not belong to the category of Third Division Clubs, since it was deemed to have been promoted."

The Tribunal concluded that "the letter conveying that Colvale club remains in the Third Division League for 2022-23 came to be intimated only on 1.12.2022, a circumstance fraught with undue delay and lacking in promptitude."

The Tribunal recorded that its final Order ought not to be read, interpreted and construed as a precedent since it is being passed to remedy the unprecedented collateral fall out resulting from the decision dated 12.05.2022 passed by the Executive Committee of GFA to meet the exigency which had arisen as a consequence of suspension of the Leagues due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some clubs have pointed out that as per the Official Competition Rules Article 60, changes in and amendments to the regulations can only be made by the Executive Committee and these shall be notified to all member Clubs within seven days of the amendment being approved.

Meanwhile, St Savio SC of Calangute has filed a case concerning the First Division League with the Arbitration Tribunal which will come for hearing on March 20. Only the Salcete Zone First Division League schedule has been announced. Also, the president of St Miguel de Taleigao, Antonio Levino Fernandes (Hambo), a First Division team from Ilhas, had raised pertinent queries on the new format for First Division championship. He is yet to receive a reply from President Caetano.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar