Swiss court begins PSL, Zifa proceedings

HARARE - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) has finally received the application for it to start proceedings in the impasse between the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).

PSL clubs and Zifa are at loggerheads following October’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) which voted to have four teams relegated instead of two.

All 16 PSL clubs agreed to approach the Switzerland-based court to make a ruling on the matter and appointed advocates Lewis Uriri and Pat Kachidza to handle their application.

Top sports lawyer Jose Luis Andrade, who is a senior counsel at Cas, yesterday wrote to both parties outlining the procedure.

“I acknowledge receipt of the request for arbitration received on 22 November 2016 by DHL, as well as the Claimants’ email of 30 November 2016, filed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport by the Premier Soccer League (Zimbabwe), Border Strikers FC, Bulawayo City FC, Caps United FC, Chapungu FC, Dynamos FC, FC Platinum, Harare City FC, Highlanders FC, How Mine FC, Hwange FC, Mutare City FC, Ngezi Platinum FC, Triangle United FC, Tsholotsho FC, ZPC Kariba FC and Chicken Inn (the claimants) against Zimbabwe Football Association (the Respondent),” Andrade wrote.

“The present arbitration procedure presents, prima facie, characteristics of both the appeals procedure and the ordinary procedure before the Cas. In light of the claimants’ option to file a request for arbitration, the request for relief contained therein and the priori hybrid nature of this matter, the case has been assigned to the ordinary Arbitration Division and shall be conducted pursuant to the provisions of Articles R38 et esq of Code of Sports-related Arbitration.”

Zifa has been given 10 days to submit their written submissions in response to the arguments raised by the PSL clubs in their application.

PSL chairperson and Highlanders boss Peter Dube has already been suspended by Zifa after the saga broke out.

Bosso chief executive Ndumiso Gumede has also been expelled from all football activities by Zifa.

Uriri, who is the CAPS United chairperson, had also suffered a similar fate but Zifa made a u-turn and revoked his suspension.  

Andrade went on to suggest the mediation route for both parties as a way to end the current standoff.

“I take this opportunity to draw the parties’ attention to the possibility of submitting this dispute to Cas mediation, which would not prejudice the parties’ right to subsequently re-submit the dispute to arbitration, should the dispute remain unresolved at the conclusion of the mediation procedure,” he said.

“A successful mediation procedure would result in a binding settlement, the terms of which will have been agreed upon by both parties. Mediation has potentially significant time and cost advantages for both the claimants and the respondent, and is a more flexible procedure, which facilitates more creative means of resolving the dispute.

“Pursuant to article 6 of the Cas Mediation Rules, unless the parties agree between themselves as to whom the mediator will be, he/she shall be chosen by the Cas president from among the list of Cas mediators and appointed after consultation with the parties.”

If the PSL and Zifa choose this route, then they have 10 days to notify the court of the decision.

In a bid to try to avoid the Cas hearing from going ahead, Zifa and the PSL met in the capital at the weekend to try and find a way forward but not much head way was made.

Both parties only agreed to relegate two teams from the top flight league which came to an end last month.

However, the standoff is still on the matter on how many teams will be promoted into the top flight league next season from the four winners from the Division One leagues.

As this standoff continues, the league’s principal sponsor Delta Beverages are contemplating not renewing their deal which runs out at the end of this year.

Delta marketing director Maxen Karombo expressed concern during last Friday’s Soccer Star of the Year banquet.

“We don’t know the status of the Premier Soccer League in its relationship with Zifa. We don’t have any substantive chairman to engage with, we don’t know the status of the relegation so until football itself comes its consensus and they get organised behind a united front then they can meaningfully engage with any sponsor not just Delta,” he said.

“As it is it’s very difficult to engage with a disorganized structure. So we are only waiting for organised structure to come back not just us but everyone else who is interested in sponsoring football.

“We have spent the past six seasons supporting football and increasing the nature and format of our sponsorship. I don’t want to be drawn into any conclusions at the moment because honestly we don’t know what’s gonna happen until there is total sanity in football.”

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