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Date: 26 March 2019

  African - Soccer

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Was CAF right in dismissing Namibia's protest on a technicality?

[Posted 11 Nov 2011]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Was CAF right in dismissing Namibia"s protest on a technicality?

The Confederation of African Football made a very worrying decision when it dismissed Namibia's legal challenge of Burkina Faso's alleged use ineligible Cameroonian-born Herve Xavier Zengue in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Namibia.

Namibia had contended that Zengue, who was born in Cameroon's capital Yaonde, and only naturalised as a Burkinable through his marriage to the West African country's citizen, was not properly cleared according to Fifa's laid down criteria before representing Burkina Faso.

It is the Southern African country's case that Zengue did not follow the procedures laid down in Fifa's Articles. Violated provisions could be any of articles 15 to 18 which lay down procedures for change of nationality or association.

In Zengue's case, article 18.3 which appears to be more relevant than any other article stipulates as follows:

Any Player who has the right to change Associations in accordance with par. 1 and 2 above shall submit a written, substantiated request to the FIFA general secretariat...Once the Player has filed his request, he is not eligible to play for any representative team until his request has been processed.

Zengue, and Burkina Faso in particular should infact be in serious trouble for having violated Fifa statutes by fielding a player who is not properly cleared and therefore ineligible to take part in a competition of a Fifa affiliate structure.

It is very surprising and eye-brow raising that CAF decided to dismiss Namibia's protest on a technicality, citing such reasons like that the NFA complaint was not counter-signed by the Burkina Faso captain and also that the protest was lodged late.

It appears that Caf made a decision to suit convenience more than it suits justice. It appears that there is little time to throw out Burkina Faso and replace them with Namibia before the AFCON kicks off in January.

Namibia's FA played the match against Burkina Faso on 4 June under protest, and technically, that can be considered almost an equivalent of bringing the matter to the attention of Fifa and Caf.

Zengue featured in back to back fixtures between Burkina Faso and Namibia on March 26 and 4 June this year, both matches which the West Africans won.

Should Namibia's appeal succeed, then in accordance with Caf's own Afcon rules, article 36.12, a team which allows a 'non-qualified or a suspended player to take part in group matches shall lose the match by penalty (3-0), even in the absence of protests/reservations'.

Why Caf chooses to dismiss Namibia's case on a technicality alone without considering the merits of the protest, is more than baffling. The Caf panel which decided on Namibia's protest clearly erred and Issa Hayatou and his colleagues at Caf should hide their heads in shame.

Nations from the other parts of Africa have always felt that Caf rules or acts in favour of teams from North and West Africa whenever there is a dispute or when allocation of match officials is done or when other decisions are taken in football on the continent.

Decisions such as the one taken by the Caf panel in Namibia's case can only help give credence to sentiments of bias against teams from other parts of continent, if its not North, or West African teams.

Caf has indicated that they are set to hear Namibia's appeal on Tuesday against its shocking decision in Namibia's protest, but Namibia have already made up their mind that they are prepared to go as far as the Court of Arbitration in Sports, based in Switzerland, should Caf make another questionable decision.


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