The inaugural Digicel schools football championship set to conclude today was hit by a hiccup as the defeated semi-finalist Waramadong Secondary threatened to pull out of the third place play-off match today, claiming they were unfairly treated in Friday’s game.
In the game between Waramadong Secondary and Wismar Christianburg, there was an unusual stoppage incident in the 89th minute by the referee.
Speaking to Stabroek Sport Waramadong Secondary coach Alvin Francis and Head Teacher Ganesh Persaud described their disgust with the incident in that semi-final which they deemed as unfair to them.
They lodged an official complaint with Digicel in which they stated that they should be declared winners of match given that in their view the referee’s decision to stop the game to attend to the floodlights, when the light was very good and was not affecting the Waramadong players was very unfair. At the time of the stoppage, Waramadong were 3-1 up with just one minute to go in regulation time.
They said that way too much extra-time was given, during which Christianburg scored two goals. They noted that there were not many stoppages during the regulation 90 minutes
“We should be at least awarded a rematch, given that the opposition scored two goals after that resumption. We expected the game to have at least to extra-time of two 5-minute halves which was clearly stated in Rule 8 of the tournament regulations given to us by Digicel at the start of the tournament. But that did not happen and it went straight to penalties,” they complained.
Francis said he was never notified about a change in Rule 8 in any of matches in the competition, especially during the semi-final.
Digicel, in a response to Waramadong, noted that according to FIFA Laws of Football, the officiating officials are the sole custodians of the game with the responsibility of making decisions in the interest of the game, players and officials. On investigating the reason for the stoppage of the game, it was reported that the lights on the side of the field were affecting the sight of the referee hence the stoppage to rectify this, Digicel said in its letter to Waramadong, noting that the decision taken by the referee was in keeping with the Laws of the game.
It said the laws of the game also make provision for the referee to add any extra time considered necessary even after the extra time has been indicated by the fourth official without any further notification.
Digicel explained that Rule 8 had to be changed in keeping with new rules effected last month by FIFA. This rule states that all games played at 19 and under level will not be subjected to overtime if the score is tied at regulation time, but penalty kicks will be immediately taken.
“On playing their first game in the competition teams should have been informed by the officiating officials of this new rule,” Digicel said. “In our view since Waramadong was playing their 4th game, the officiating officials may not have considered it necessary to inform teams of this change.”
Digicel commiserated with Waramadong but said it did not “consider it prudent to grant either your request to 1) declare Waramadong Secondary as the winner or 2) have a rematch.”
Digicel said it noted the other observations made and would certainly take those into consideration for future planning.
Up to last evening it was unclear if Waramadong would take part in the 3rd place play-off. The headmaster informed Stabroek Sport that there was division among the players and families on whether to participate in the game or not.