It should by now be water under the bridge. The goal referee Joshua Bondo robbed Chipolopolo of during a World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in Uyo last Saturday is now a by-gone. We are crying over the proverbial spilt milk.
Zambian winger Augustine Mulenga’s disallowed goal will forever be a reference point. And we are drawn to this debate once again after FAZ president Andrew Kamanga’s latest statement.
Kamanga says, “we have already written to FIFA complaining about the referees’ decision where he denied us a clear goal.”
This statement is in sharp contrast to what the FAZ president announced at the airport on Monday when he said, “According to article 15 of the FIFA regulation, which clearly states 15 (6) that the referees decision is final. That is where football comes from. Where there is reason to believe that the referee has probably made a mistake, I think there are enough safeguards within the system that address those kinds of concerns. So that is where we are starting from.
“I think all games have got referee assessors, I think they will equally file in their reports, the match commissioner will file in the report. But the rules are very clear, you cannot overturn a referee’s decision, the only decision that is overturned and I think this should be very clear and this is the basis on which we find ourselves constrained.”
Kamanga added: “Those of us who were in the stadium saw it within a split second that it was not an offside but the referee made a decision and like I said the referee’s decision is final. But the only consolation is that FIFA will overturn the result of a game if they have reason to believe that there was external influence.
“We have spoken to the match commissioner, we did speak to the referee assessor I equally made frantic efforts to speak to officials in FIFA…I had the opportunity to consult widely but the conclusion was that we were denied a clear goal, but the rules being what they are, you cannot overturn the decision of the referee. The only basis is when there is suspicion that there was evidence of external interference.
“The referee may be carpeted for making a wrong decision but the decision still stands, unfortunately that is the way football is and that is where we find ourselves.”
Clearly, Kamanga’s statement on Monday – 48 hours after the match was played – put a close to the debate on the part of FAZ. He had no intention to push the matter forward and left it to the discretion of FIFA.
Today, he has accused soccer fans of missing the point. Again, the FAZ boss himself missed the point in his conflicting statements.
While Kamanga states that the competition regulations make the referees’ decision final, he neglects to also highlight avenues provided by the same regulations to address grievances arising from disputed calls.
HERE ARE THE THREE THINGS AS OUTLINED IN THE COMPETITION REGULATIONS THAT FAZ SHOULD HAVE DONE TO DRAW THE ATTENTION OF FIFA TO THIS CONTROVERSY THAT THEY DID NOT DO
1. Skipper Kennedy Mweene should have protested to the referee about the disallowed goal (article 15.5.
2. Zambian delegation Rix Mweemba should then have followed up the matter in writing with the match commissioner not later than two hours after the final whistle.
3. Both FAZ vice-president Rix Mweemba and general secretary Ponga Liwewe who were in Nigeria should then have collaborated by following up the matter with a fax of their complaint to FIFA within 24 hours as per article 15.2.
If none of this was done, which is a likelihood going by events and statements from FAZ, the judicial review Kamanga is talking about is a waste of time because article 15.8 clearly stipulates that “if any of the formal conditions of protest as set out in these regulations are not met, such protest shall be disregarded by the competent body.”
It must be noted that the article 15.6 as relied upon by the FAZ president as the main provision not have initiated the protest is not cast in stone more so that it states, “No protests MAY be made about the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play. Such decisions are final and not subject to appeal, unless otherwise stipulated in the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”
Those better schooled at law than ourselves will argue that a provision in any legislation with such wording as MAY are open to further interpretation especially that this same article is left open and should be read together with the provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
According to article 72 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the decisions of the referee that are considered final are those that are disciplinary in nature, not disputed decisions such wrong offside calls.
Rather than go about being defensive and attacking soccer fans for demanding action, the FAZ leadership must learn to take responsibility for its failures or omission to do a good job. That is what leadership entails. Ghana may have been better informed than our leadership the more reason they could have pushed in an appeal for a wrong call. With that said, this is a dead issue. Lets move on.