BY Kevin Mapasure
Herentals Football Club’s joy of a return to the topflight league has been cut short after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee yesterday expelled the club from the division for taking football matters to court.
The judgment was released yesterday, barely a week after the Zifa disciplinary committee overrode a PSL disciplinary committee ruling to dock the team three points, which would have seen Herentals getting relegated, over match fixing allegations that involved Black Rhinos.
Herentals thought they were off the hook following Zifa’s ruling, which has been viewed with both suspicion and outrage in some quarters, but the team finds itself in a worse situation after they were expelled by the top division.
The soap opera is set to continue with the club expected to seek yet more reprieve from Zifa.
A statement authored by PSL spokesperson yesterday announced the Herentals fate.
“The PSL disciplinary committee expelled Herentals FC from the Premier Soccer League for taking football matters to court. In addition, the club has been fined one hundred thousand dollars (ZWL$100 000) together with the costs of the hearing. The fine should be paid by March 31, 2020,” the statement read in part.
“The club was charged for breaching the Premier Soccer League rules and regulations order 31 which states that it is an act of misconduct on the part of the club where: 31.1.5 it fails to comply with or contravenes any provisions of the constitution and these orders, the Zifa constitution and rules of the association, the Caf statutes and the Fifa statutes as well as the laws of the game.
“31.1.21 It, inclusive of its officials, players, servants, or duly authorised (expressed or implied) representatives or supporters commits any act or makes any statement, either orally or in writing, or has been responsible for conduct which is considered ungentlemanly, insulting or improper behaviour or likely to bring the game, sponsors, any member, the league, Zifa, Caf or Fifa into disrepute.
“The club also breached Article 53.1 of the PSL statutes which states that: PSL, its members, players, officials and match and player’s agents will not take any dispute to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for in these statutes and Fifa regulations. Any disagreement shall be submitted to the jurisdiction of PSL, Zifa, Caf and Fifa.
“The club pleaded guilty to the offence and the PSL disciplinary committee noted that the club had not withdrawn the matter from the courts.”
The team was reported to have withdrawn the case, but it has emerged that they actually did not and they face another battle to stay afloat in the topflight.
They still have another case of match fixing that is still pending after Bulawayo Chiefs also claimed the misconduct.
Black Rhinos were outraged following Herentals’ acquittal, raising a red flag over the team’s donations to Zifa over the last few months.
Rhinos secretary-general Edward Mutukwa said the army side was disappointed by the Zifa appeals committee judgment and accused the Innocent Benza-owned side of using their financial muscle to have the match fixing conviction overturned.
“We’ve seen that money rules in Zimbabwean football. The case was very clear, as a club we feel we did our best to expose match fixing in our football. We had all the evidence. In the case of Zifa it’s now clear that money is more important than the integrity of our football because we noted that they were accepting donations from Herentals even when the matter was yet to be decided by the appeals committee. What it means is that the judgment which was going to be passed by the appeals board was always going to be questionable,” he said.