GFF Disciplinary Committee can’t rule on policy matters

- former GFF president Matthias

Former Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Chief Christopher Matthias has declared, that the federation’s Disciplinary Committee has no authority whatsoever to pronounce on policy matters, and as such, cannot overrule the decisions of CONCACAF and FIFA.

In an exclusive interview with Stabroek News, Matthias said, “One has to ask oneself what is the responsibility of the disciplinary committee. From time immemorial to the time of my departure from football, the disciplinary committee has never been one to pronounce on policy. So if the High Court which is CONCACAF makes a decision and the Supreme Court which is FIFA endorses the decision, how could you appeal to a Magisterial Court to overturn the decision of the High Court and Supreme Court? The asylum is now being run by its inmates”.

Christopher Matthias

Despite FIFA and CONCACAF rulings weeks earlier that the GFF has the constitutional power to modify any tournament that falls under its dominion, the Disciplinary Committee has surprisingly ruled that the entity has no such authority.

Asked if the Disciplinary Committee should be disbanded for such a decision, Matthias said, “It know begs the question as to the local standi of the disciplinary committee. I don’t know what was the motive or objective behind the appointment of the disciplinary committee. However I am fully aware that the issue of football has been influenced by other factors outside of football for their own agenda and purpose and when one looks at the composition of the disciplinary committee, one can suddenly realize how and why the disciplinary committee might have arrived at such a ludicrous decision”

According to Matthias, “On the surface it appears to be ludicrous. One only has to return to the constitution of the GFF which was signed onto by the various clubs. The constitution which they didn’t take time to read nor study, the constitution vests the power in the executive committee, the power to make rules, and to change such rules of any tournament.”

“The GFF executive committee in the history of Guyana’s football has never been shackled with the responsibility to consult with the membership in the changing of rules as regard to competitions. If the executive so does, then there are doing it out of mere decency because you can have a conundrum that if the GFF sets the rules for a tournament and half of the participating clubs do not agree with the rules and the other half does, what will happen to football?” he added.

Meanwhile, according to a source close to the GFF, “The GFF doesn’t recognize the decision, they have no authority to rule.” According to leaked documents, the disciplinary committee which is headed by attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin and includes Dr. Clement McEwan and Natasha Vieira, ruled on April 14th, “The constitution can only be amended by the Congress and the Executive Committee has no authority to unilaterally amend the constitution in any manner whatsoever. The amendment to increase the Elite League from eight members to 10 members was ultra vires the powers of the Executive Committee and is unlawful.”

Under the headline Orders for Disposal of Matter, the document said, “1. The complaint by the Elite League Clubs is upheld, 2. The Amendment to the Elite League Rules and Regulations by the Executive Committee is ultra vires and declared unlawful, 3. It is declared that there are eight Elite League Members as listed in Clause 10 of the constitution and any change /amendment to Clause 10 of the constitution must be made by the Congress.”

Four clubs, Alpha United, Slingerz, Georgetown Football Club and Pele boycotted the second GFF Elite League tournament over the question whether the GFF had the right to decide the composition of the tournament. They subsequently filed a complaint on December 3rd, 2016 against the federation to the Disciplinary Committee.

However this ruling is in direct opposition to what CONCACAF Secretary General Philippe Moggio and his FIFA counterpart Fatma Samoura have stated in official correspondence.

Moggio, on November 9th, 2016 declared, “According to art. 36 par. 2-i) of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Constitution, the GFF Executive Committee has the authority (and obligation) to ‘draw up regulations governing the conditions of participation and staging of competitions organized by the Federation’. The correspondence further states that, “this shall not affect the composition of the Congress.”

Moggio added, “Based on the authority granted by the cited article, the GFF Executive Committee is to issue the GFF Elite League Regulations (and of any other Competition organized by the GFF). It must be specified that although the GFF Executive Committee may consult its stakeholders with respect to the content of the Regulations, such Regulations are to be issued on the sole authority of the Committee and based on the powers conferred by the GFF Constitution. In this respect, the Regulations do not constitute a “binding contract” between the Federation and the Clubs participating in the League.

“Unless a specific and separate written agreement between the GFF Executive Committee (or former Normalization Committee) and the Clubs exists and provides to the contrary, the GFF Executive Committee has the authority to modify the GFF Elite League Regulations and would be entitled to add additional participating Clubs,” he said.

Meanwhile, General Secretary of FIFA, Samoura in a letter dated February 1st, 2017 endorsed the decision of CONCACAF. In her missive she stated, “It is within the power of the GFF Executive Committee to change the regulations of the Elite League, including determining the number of participating clubs, unless there is a binding written agreement between the GFF and the Elite League which would state otherwise- to the best of our knowledge, however, such an agreement does not exist.”

Samoura referred to Article 36.21 of the GFF constitution which indicated that it is within the powers of the GFF Executive Committee to draw up regulations governing the conditions of participation in and the staging of competitions organized by the federation including the playing schedule.

FIFA also reiterated that the expansion of the league shall not affect the membership of the GFF congress.

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