Saturday’s scheduled commencement of the 22nd annual Kashif and Shanghai football extravanganza yesterday appeared uncertain after Alpha United president Odinga Lumumba indicated his club’s intention to move to the Court over their omission from the list of clubs invited to participate in this year’s tourney.
The Kashif and Shanghai organization has named 20 clubs (including two foreign clubs) to compete for the top prize of one pound of gold but the defending champions, for the first time in years, are not among them.
While Lumumba said Alpha United has not been formally written to informing them of their non selection and explaining why, he did say that he was warned not to participate in the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) Banks President’s Beer League competition.
The GFA and the GFF are embroiled in legal challenges stemming from the decision by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) not recognizing the current GFA executive and denying them voting rights prior to this year’s staging of the GFF’s Annual General Meeting after Lumumba had emerged as the GFA candidate to challenge then president of the GFF Colin Klass for the post.
Klass has since been suspended for 26 months by the Ethics Committee of FIFA, following his involvement in a cash-for-votes scandal in Trinidad earlier this year.
In May, on the day of the GFF Congress, the GFA moved to the Court and was granted an injunction that sought to nullify the Congress (which was in process) and the subsequent election of office bearers.
Officials from the GFA including president Vernon Burnett, secretary Christopher Matthias and others turned up at the Ocean View International Hotel, along with a Court Martial, to serve the injunction on then secretary of the GFF, Noel Adonis, who has since been suspended by the World governing body for football, FIFA.
Then, in September, the GFA sought, and was granted, an injunction restraining the GFF from interfering in the management and administration of football in Georgetown.
Lumumba feels that because of the latest injunction, his club should not be penalized by the organizers.
“It was announced that we were in the Kashif and Shanghai tournament. We were subsequently warned by the organizers that if we played in the GFA-sanctioned tournament we would not be allowed to play in the Kashif and Shanghai tournament,” Lumumba said yesterday.
But, he argued that failing to participate in the GFA tournament could have led to sanctions from that body.
“The GFA would have suspended us. We were in essence caught between a rock and hard place,” Lumumba said adding that the GFA has since suspended Pele and Western Tigers Football Clubs, two clubs who did not play in the GFA Banks President’s Beer League.
Lumumba said Alpha United has since dispatched a letter to the GFF.
“My lawyer has written the GFF. They have 48 hours to respond,” he added.
He argued that the decision to omit Alpha United from the competition on the basis that the GFA has taken the GFF to Court constitutes a violation of the Court Order.
Lawyer for Alpha United, Roysdale Forde, yesterday described as “unreasonable” the decision by the organizers to omit Alpha United from the Xmas football extravaganza.
“I believe that pressure was brought to bear on the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation by the Guyana Football Federation,” Forde told Stabroek Sport last evening.
“That the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation submitted to the pressure really amounts to a breach of the Court Order as the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation is prohibiting Alpha United from participating in the tournament simply because the federation is not pleased with the fact that Alpha United participated in the GFA competition,” Forde added.
“The Court Order prohibits the GFF from interfering with the GFA and the decision to have Kashif and Shanghai exclude Alpha United is really unreasonable and they have no basis in law,” Forde went on.
Sacrificing principle for expediency
Forde said the organizers were attempting to sacrifice principle on the alter of expediency.
“The Kashif and Shanghai Organization is seeking to have the approval of the federation for its tournament at all costs and is apparently prepared to sacrifice principle for expediency.
“They are clearly submitting to the whims and fancies of the federation notwithstanding, however misplaced they may be,” Forde argued.
GFF seeking legal opinion
Acting president of the GFF, Franklin Wilson, in an invited comment said:”Right now the matter is engaging the attention of our legal people.”
Wilson added that the General Council of the GFF met some weeks ago where the decision on Alpha United’s participation was taken.
And, Co-Director of the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation Aubrey `Shanghai’ Major in brief comments told this newspaper that the Kashif and Shanghai organization reserves the right to invite teams of its choice.
Lumumba said he feels that the time may be ripe to form an alternative association to the GFF.
“It has reached a point where we sincerely have to consider forming another national football association, an alternative body,” he reasoned.