Kaizer Chiefs win arbitration against PSL and matches must be played
Kaizer Chiefs’ arbitration against the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has sensationally gone the club’s way, with the two matches the club failed to honour in December ordered to be played.
Arbitrator Nazeer Cassim SC handed down his award in the arbitration at the SA Football Association on Friday afternoon, and ordered that the DStv Premiership matches be scheduled for a date by the PSL.
The timing of the award came as a surprise, as Cassim had indicated after the arbitration was heard and argued on Tuesday and Wednesday that he would hand down his award this coming Tuesday.
This is a big victory for Chiefs, as their chances of making something from their 2021-22 season rested on them being able to play the matches. Had they lost the arbitration, they were set to come before a PSL disciplinary committee (DC) hearing and, by the rules of the league, would almost certainly have been docked the six Premiership points in that process.
The PSL, though, does still have recourse to take the arbitration decision to the high court on review.
The case involved the matches Chiefs did not honour at home to Cape Town City on December 4 and away against Lamontville Golden Arrows on December 8 amid an outbreak of 31 cases of Covid-19, which grew to more than 50 cases, that shut down their headquarters in Naturena.
Chiefs applied to the PSL for postponements of their December matches but were turned down by the league’s executive committee (exco).
In his arbitration award, Cassim found that: “It is my view that KC [Chiefs] was justified in not fielding teams for the fixtures on December 4 and December 8 2021. These two games must be replayed.
“There is much to be said that where possible games must be replayed in order to enable soccer to triumph and the best team on the day in question to be rewarded for its efforts.
“I am averse to the litigation process deciding the winner. It is better that the results of the match be determined in the field.”
Cassim did also note, in a second point, that: “I think had the officials of KC constructively engaged the officials of CTC [City] and GA [Arrows] timeously, the sensible consensus would have been to postpone the fixtures in order to protect the soccer players and in the public interest. The officials of KC were wanting in this regard in not timeously engaging their respective colleagues.”
In terms of costs, Cassim found that Chiefs “presented a case before the football manager and the exco that was not properly considered”.
“KC was at fault for not properly motivating its case before the football manger. It was at fault in not properly coming to grips with its own case and avoided answering pertinent questions raised by the league compliance officer, which proper responses would have assisted the parties coming to grips with the issue.
“KC must in the result be liable for the legal cost of the league ... [and] must pay the wasted cost occasioned by City in attending at Johannesburg on December 4 ... [and the] cost incurred by Arrows, if any.”
For the first time the arbitration papers have been revealed that when Chiefs experienced their initial outbreak of 31 cases of Covid-19, this included 17 senior team players, nine senior team technical staff and five administrative staff members, according to a letter written by the club at the time.
Chiefs are a huge 16 points behind runaway leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premiership, but have four games in hand. Mathematically, if they won all four of the outstanding matches, that would give them 12 points and take Chiefs within four points of Downs.
If the arbitration had gone against Chiefs they would then almost certainly have lost six of those points in their DC, which would put an end to any hope of them at the very least even pressurising four-time consecutive champions Sundowns.
PSL prosecutor Zola Majavu has indicated that the outcome of the arbitration may make the DC null and void.
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