SA PSL shows Zifa the way

HARARE - Events in the South African Absa Premiership this week have exposed the archaic and opaque rules followed by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) during the abandoned Dynamos-FC Platinum Independence Cup final.

On Tuesday evening, SuperSport United played Orlando Pirates and were leading 1-0 when floodlights at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane stopped working after 63 minutes.

SuperSport had taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Michael Boxall turned home David Mathebula’s free-kick.

After the electricians at the venue failed to resolve the problem, the match officials abandoned the match in consultation with both SuperSport and Pirates.

According to rule 5,7 of the Absa Premiership: “Should a match be abandoned by the Referee due to insufficient illumination from the floodlights, then the remaining minutes of the match will be resumed on a date and time agreed upon between the two participating clubs immediately.

“The date and time will be within 48 hours of the abandonment, subject to the approval of the PSL CEO or a delegated Official.”

After consultations between Pirates, SuperSport and the Absa Premiership it was agreed the match, be resumed the following day on Wednesday at 12 noon.

The league’s communications officer Lux September went on to clarify the matter.

“As rule 5,7, the game will resume at 12h00. The game will start on 63 minutes. SuperSport United 1 - 0 Orlando Pirates,” he said.

“People who bought tickets for SuperSport Utd vs Orlando Pirates abandoned match will be able to use them this afternoon.”

The match was resumed with SuperSport leading 1-0 and Matsatsantsa a Pitori were able to see out the remaining 27 minutes to collect the three points.

This is in stark contrast to what transpired on that fateful day on April 18, at the National Sports Stadium when lights went out with Dynamos leading FC Platinum 1-0 after 64 minutes.

Midfielder Ronald Chitiyo had given the Glamour Boys the lead with a 15th minute strike before a power failure at the venue stopped the match as the flood lights went out.

The match fell under Zifa’s jurisdiction and the following day the association’s spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela issued this statement: “Zifa alone cannot decide on such a sensitive issue, therefore we will wait till after the meeting with the SRC whereupon a binding decision concerning the way forward will surely be established.

“We deeply regret the unexpected disturbance on such a significant day in the history of the country but we accept that such accidents can happen hence we have to move forward by finding the fairest of solutions to the situation at hand.

“We also appeal to the participants, FC Platinum and Dynamos as well as the thousands of supporters who were at the match venue to bear with us for all the inconveniences caused.”

It was only three days later on April 21, around 3pm when Zifa finally finalised their “consultations” and ordered a replay of the match with the scores at 0-0.

“After wide consultations and deliberations, the Zimbabwe Football Association has seen it fit to order a replay of the 2015 Independence Cup final,” said Zifa.

“We have taken into cognisance that the abandonment of the match was a result of force majeure (unforeseen events) therefore none of the participating teams was at fault. This is a new game altogether and it will be played for a full 90 minutes.

“Consequently, the 1-0 position in favour of Dynamos obtained prior to the premature end of the match is hereby nullified.”

Initially, all the fans had entered the National Sports Stadium free of charge on April 18 since it was an event to mark Zimbabwe’s Independence Day celebrations but for the replay Zifa said they should pay at least $3.

Dynamos refused to take part in the replay and FC Platinum were subsequently handed the trophy by Zifa.

The decision will always be a contentious one and Zifa set a precedence which will probably haunt Zimbabwean football in the future.

But just across the Limpopo, the Absa Premiership was faced with a similar predicament but they handled it in an appropriate manner which did not prejudice SuperSport, Pirates or the fans, who had paid their cash to enter Peter Mokaba Stadium.

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