Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) Competitions Disciplinary Panel (CDP) on Tuesday evening dismissed a petition by FUFA Big League side Ndejje University over the application of Article 18 of the competition regulations in regard to the conclusion of the second-tier season.
“FUFA Competitions Disciplinary Panel upholds the decision by Executive on Big League 2019/2020 season. So, UPDF and MYDA qualify automatically to the UPL,” FUFA tweeted.
The FUFA Competitions Disciplinary Panel chaired by Deo Mutabaazi argued that the Executive committee acted within its mandated powers according to Article 85 (in cases of a force majeure and on matters not provided for) to take the decision.
According to the communicated ruling, while the rules clearly provide for the rule to be applied in cases of not less than, or more than 75%, they do not provide for situations where it is 75%.
The panel therefore, noted that the executive committee took all relevant articles into consideration and was justified in excersing its powers in order to achieve sporting justice.
“Considering that the FUFA Big League season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, that gives rise to a force majeure situation. The FUFA Executive Committee exercised its powers as provided for under Article 85,” the CDP decision read in part.
“The Executive Committee took the relevant regulations into account while making the decision and also considered the fact that Nyamityobora had played 75% of their games, yet under Article 18 (b) consideration is given to matches less than 75%, whereas 18(c) provides for more than 75%.”
“Thereby leaving a question what happens to a club that has played 75%? In an effort to promote sporting justice, the Executive committee opted to consider the 75% and relegated teams to the third division.”
“Since the regulations did not cater for all scenarios in regard to the 75% rule, the Executive Committee was justified in exercising its powers under Article 85 (on matters not provided for) which aimed at seeing that sports justice was achieved,” the statement further stated.
With the football season in the country halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent government ban on sports and public gatherings, with no foreseeable future of a return, FUFA applied the article and subsequently called off the season.
Article 18, provides the procedure to be followed should the football season not be completed sportingly.
Article 18 (b), states: Where all the Clubs in the league have completed the first-round fixture but less than 75% league games have been played, the table standings at the end of the first round shall be considered as the final table standing of the league.
While Article 18 (c) states: Where at least one club has played more than 75% of the league games, the following formula shall be used to determine the table positions for the respective group:”
Under the article, Vipers SC was confirmed champions of the Uganda Premier League, the same rule was applied for the Big League with MYDA and UPDF granted automatic promotion from the Elgon and Rwenzori groups.
Subsequently, Kitara FC, Kataka, Kiboga Young and Ndejje University FC would gain promotion via play-offs, while Saviour FC, Light SS FC, Katwe United, Kansai Plascon, New Villa and Doves FC were handed relegation.
However, Ndejje and Saviour contested the application of the rule, citing misinterpretation of the article, stating that no club had covered more than 75% of its matches – Nyamityobora had played 12 games out of 16 which is exactly 75% but not more.
Ndejje therefore called for Article 18 subsection b, to be applied in this instance which calls for the final standings after the first round to be considered if not more than 75% of the games have been played.
With Ndejje finishing top of the Rwenzori group after the first round, they would gain automatic promotion, and UPDF who finished fourth would not even make the play-offs
With Ndejje’s petition now dismissed, they will tussle it out with Kiboga Young in one of the play-off semi-finals, while Kitara FC do play Kataka in the other semi-final.
The dates for the play-offs are yet to be confirmed as FUFA waits on the government to provide guidance on when and how sports can resume in the country.