The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has declared that the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Disciplinary Committee’s mandate does not give it the authority to rule against the Executive Committee of the federation on the matter of league expansion.
The Disciplinary Committee recently ruled that the GFF did not have the constitutional authority to amend tournaments that fall under its jurisdiction.
However, according to documents seen by Stabroek Sports, the Disciplinary Committee, which is headed by Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin and comprises Dr. Clement McEwan, Natasha Vieira and Whittington Braithwaite, ruled on April 14th that the constitution of the GFF can only be amended by the Congress.
The Disciplinary Committee concluded that the Executive Committee has no authority to unilaterally amend the constitution in any manner whatsoever.
As such, the Disciplinary Committee had ruled that the amendment by the GFF to increase the Elite League from eight members to 10 members was “ultra vires the powers of the Executive Committee and is unlawful.”
The GFF’s Disciplinary Committee had ruled under the headline `Orders for Disposal of Matter’ that (a) The complaint by the Elite League Clubs is upheld, (b) That the Amendment to the Elite League Rules and Regulations by the Executive Committee is ultra vires and declared unlawful, and (c) 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.”
However, in a document dated May 3rd 2017, FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura announced: (a) “Based on the GFF statutes that were ratified by the GFF on 26th June 2015 and approved by FIFA on 7 July 2015, we deem that the GFF Disciplinary Committee is only competent to pass decisions in relation to disciplinary issues. Consequently, the GFF Disciplinary Committee should not decide on matters related to decisions passed by the GFF Executive Committee, such as the ones described in your correspondence.
“The above point is further compounded by the information that the GFF does not appear to have yet adopted a Disciplinary Code upon which the Disciplinary Committee should act. Such code is to be issued by the GFF Executive Committee and must comply with the Disciplinary Code of FIFA and CONCACAF as stipulated in art. 61 of the GFF Statues.
“Lastly, we would like to seize this opportunity to underline that any decision that may have been or may be passed by the GFF Disciplinary Committee should be dealt with according to the statutes and regulations of the GFF as well as any relevant national laws in this regard. As such, the GFF Disciplinary Committee and Appeal Committee should operate based on a relevant set of regulations (i.e. a disciplinary code) which shall, inter alia, clearly define how disciplinary processes are to be conducted. Furthermore, such set of regulations shall ensure that judicial bodies are independent (separation of powers) as set out in art. 15 let. d) of the FIFA Statutes and it shall also establish that both committees are to be composes of different members.
“Bearing the aforementioned in mind and based on the information in our possession, we deem that the decision taken by the GFF Disciplinary Committee exceeds its prerogatives. Finally, we kindly draw to your attention to the fact that this information is only of general nature and therefore without prejudice to any decision that any competent body may be called to pass in this or similar matters in the future,” the document concluded.
Yesterday, Wayne Forde, President of the GFF, reading from a prepared statement said: “Last year, the Executive Committee of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) took the historic and progressive decision to expand the Elite League from eight to 10 Clubs by adding two clubs that are legitimate holders of the Elite Club License. The Executive Committee’s decision is in full compliance with the powers conferred by the GFF Constitution according to Art. 36 par. 2i.
“Despite overwhelming national support for this move, four clubs [Alpha United, Slingerz FC, Pele and GFC] opposed this decision, deliberately breaching the GFF Constitution by refusing to participate in this season’s Elite League, which they are constitutionally mandated to do as members of the GFF according to Art. 13 1c. The clubs actions were unconstitutional, unprofessional, completely misguided and against the interest of the overall development of football in Guyana and the players of each club.
“The Disciplinary Committee, despite lacking the constitutional authority, seized itself to adjudicate in this matter after the clubs had lodged a complaint. On April 14th 2017, it ruled against the Executive Committee of the GFF.
“The Executive Committee wishes to reiterate that the Disciplinary Committee has no constitutional remit to deal with this matter. This position was confirmed by FIFA in its correspondence to the President of the GFF, dated May 3rd 2017. Additionally the executive is of the firm conviction that the process engaged by the Disciplinary Committee was thoroughly flawed.
“We have stated clearly from the outset that this issue did not fall within the remit or competence of the Disciplinary Committee. The Executive Committee has received no response to this from the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, despite formally requesting that he prove on what authority he seized this matter.
“As the Disciplinary Committee does not have the right to hear this matter, the Executive Committee did not take part in any proceedings and we questioned the motivation and rationale behind such proceedings.
In response to a query if any action (s) will be taken against the body at the impending congress on May 27th, Forde revealed “One should never speculate on these matters, to characterize the proceedings as being suspicious is as far as I think we are willing to go. We will present the situation and the case at Congress. We will be very deep in detail from the genesis to where we are now and we will put specific motions on the floor to be voted on. Once the membership have taken their decision, that’s what the Executive Committee will adhere to.”
On the subject of why the Disciplinary of Code has not been instituted, as the lack of such was referred to in FIFA’s most recent correspondence, Forde said… “We have been involved in quite a number of work in the past 17 months and not only a Disciplinary Code is needed but we have submitted to CONCACAF at various forums, that there are sections of the constitution that we are of the opinion that need amendment. It’s a process that has been evolving and a situation that clearly points to a different level of urgency. FIFA, CONCAFAF and the FIFA are working tirelessly to have a Disciplinary Code that we are hoping we can circulate in the specified timeframe for the members to review so that it can be passed at the congress coming up.”
Meanwhile, Kalam Juman-Yassin, GFF’s Legal Advisor questioned the legality of the process:
“I wish to first of all indicate that I am in total agreement that the Disciplinary Committee did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the complaint against the Executive Committee of the GFF,” he said.
Outlining the timeline of the events, Yassin, who also holds the portfolio of Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) President said: “The decision of that committee is very suspect. I received an email from the chairman of that committee Mr. [Sanjeev] Datadin on the 25th of January , as a result of that I replied to him. In that correspondence he sent, he indicated that there would be a hearing on the 30th of January 2017. I responded to him and I sent a letter to him the 26th of January 2017 indicating that committee did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the matter and that the GFF’s decision to include the other two Elite League clubs was within their remit.
“A hearing was then fixed for the 3rd of February 2017. At that hearing when I first appeared, I was shocked and surprised to see sitting as part of the tribunal with Mr. Datadin and Ms. [Natasha] Vieira, Mr. Michael Shahoud. First of all, the Disciplinary Committee, two members were appointed on the 14th of November 2015, that was when the transition team was in place. Those two members were Mr. Datadin and Ms. Natasha Vieira. On the 28th of May 2016, at the Congress of the GFF, two further members were appointed. These were Dr. Clement McEwan and Mr. Whittington Braithwaite. The Appeals Committee had appointed on the 14th of November three persons, Ms. Simone Morris-Ramlall as the Chairperson, Mr. Marcel Bobb and Mr. Michael Shahoud. On the 28th of May, two other persons were added to the Appeals Committee.
“I wish to say and point out that at no time was Mr. Michael Shahoud ever appointed as a member of the Disciplinary Committee, he had been appointed, a member of the Appeals Committee. When I went to the meeting on the 3rd of February, I was shocked to see Mr. Michael Shahoud sitting there as part of the panel. I pointed out to the chairman that Mr. Shahoud should not be there as he was not appointed a member of the Disciplinary Committee but on the Appeals Committee. I asked the chairman to make a ruling on the matter, as result of him sitting and looking into the matter before that day because I had sent in submissions to the committee before. I indicated that the mere fact that he was not a member would make the whole procedure a nullity, you would have to start over again and be properly constituted. Unfortunately the chairman refused to make a ruling and requested that submissions be put in writing.
“I also pointed out that the Disciplinary Committee did not have the jurisdiction to hear constitutional matters but out of courtesy for the committee, I prepared submissions and I submitted to them on the 7th of February. When I came here on the 3rd of February Mr. Whittington Braithwaite was here seated. As far as I am aware he was not invited to come here by the Chairman. I made submissions, the chairman asked questions and I responded and that was it.
“After that I received a correspondence that they have a final sitting and then on the 14th of April, I received a notice that the Committee had sat and found the executive had breached the constitution. From that communication from Mr. Datadin, the persons who sat and determined the matter were Mr. Datadin, Ms. Vieira and Dr. Clement McEwan. Mr. Whittington Braithwaite was not included, he was ‘shocked out’. I could not believe that could have happened. I know for a fact that Mr. Braithwaite had sent an email in which he said in the email and I have ‘I note in the papers of the 16th of April last, that the Committee met and certain decisions were made. I must state as, a member of that committee I was not informed or invited to the meeting. I am surprised that there was such an important meeting without all members being informed and business conducted. This is against all protocols. These are the words from Mr. Braithwaite. I also recall that before the Committee came to its conclusion, Mr. Braithwaite had indicated to the Chairman that he needed time to look at the matter to be able to assess all the documentation. It is not the question that Mr. Braithwaite did not want to sit at the panel, it is not the question that he refused.
“At all times he wanted to be a part of the Disciplinary Committee so why was he not called in and been able to sit as a member of that committee. All of this leads me to the fact that this whole decision and purported meeting and purported decision is very suspect. I think the Chairman should at that meeting on the 3rd of February should have said that Mr. Shahoud is not a member of the committee, he should not have been and that’s it. Up to now, I have not received any documentation from the committee which indicates that Mr. Shahoud should not have been there and/or that he was not part of that committee which found the GFF guilty. As a result of that and for other reasons, I feel very certain that the decision of the Disciplinary Committee cannot stand scrutiny. You cannot ‘shock out’ a member of that committee.
That member came here, sat here, and heard the oral responses that I made and you are going to ‘shock him out’. Further Dr. McEwan never was privy, he was not here when I made oral submissions to the panel. Where did he come from, when he was invited, I don’t know but that is for the Chairman. My position is that Mr. Braithwaite was shocked out and there was no reasons why. An appeal has been filed and sent to the Secretary of the GFF. Mr. Datadin has indicated that within seven days, we would have received the memorandum of reasons. Unfortunately, up to now, I have not received that. I had sent an email to him indicating that the seven days were up and I have not received it yet. I sent that email on the 16th of April. For those reasons, I feel certain that the decision by the disciplinary committee cannot stand,” ended Yassin.