Botswana: Tribunal Declares Nato Defaulter

| April 20, 2016

Gaborone - Botswana Football Association appeals tribunal has declared Ofentse 'Size 10' Nato a defaulter in a ruling that could have dire consequences for premier league pacesetters, Township Rollers.

The tribunal, chaired by attorney, Mmoloki Keganne, alongside members: Multichoice Botswana chief executive officer, Billy Sekgororwane, UCCSA clergyman and academic Rev Dumie Mmualefe as well as banker, Bomolemo Selaledi, ruled that Township Rollers had improperly registered Nato.

As a consequence, Rollers were fined P1 000. And the Botswana Premier League was told to take the requisite remedial action for every league match that Nato played for Rollers.

Under normal circumstances, this would mean the docking of three points and two soft goals with Gilport Lions, who appealed on time, most likely to benefit.

During the deliberations, which began at 5:30 pm on Tuesday evening and ended with the ruling delivered at 1am on Wednesday at the Lekidi Football Centre in Gaborone, Gilport Lions were appealing an earlier Botswana Premier League (BPL) disciplinary committee (DC) ruling that had cleared Nato of being a defaulter.

The appeals tribunal agreed with the BPL DC that article 6.1 of FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, read along with the BFA Play Rules and Regulations Article 22.13 allowed for a professional player whose contract had expired before a transfer window to be signed outside the stipulated window.

Nato's contract with previous club, Indian Premier League side Athletico de Kolkata expired on December 22, 2015 and as such he could be signed by Rollers outside the transfer window as he was a free agent.

But a crux issue, which had been overlooked by the premier league, Rollers and even the appellant Gilport Lions in their arguments, was that the FIFA International Transfer Certificate (ITC) should have been applied for before the end of the transfer window.

The appeals tribunal concluded that Rollers, who signed Nato in February, should not have been awarded the ITC given their application date and had to re-apply afresh, making the player an improperly registered player, or a defaulter, from the time he had been deemed a Rollers player last February.

Meanwhile the Mochudi Centre Chiefs' appeal against Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 semi final second leg tie was dismissed.

Chiefs had argued that Nato and Terrance Mandaza were defaulters since their signings had meant that Rollers exceeded the quota of 25 registered senior players.

But Keganne agreed with the initial DC ruling that all 16 premier league sides had failed to comply with the quota. "We are happy to accept the DC 'in pari delicto' (equal fairness) ruling that all teams are at fault, and it would be grossly unfair for any participating party to point fingers at another then awarded relief," Keganne said.

As such, the Mascom Top 8 final would proceed on Saturday as scheduled, with Rollers facing Orapa United in Francistown.

SOURCE: Botswana Daily News.

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