Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2023. 11:05 pm CST.
Photos Credit: Belize Hurricanes-Belize City Defenders-William George Ysaguirre
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: After five Belize Elite Basketball League (BEBL) teams called a press conference on Wednesday morning to state their position regarding the case of Kirk Smith Jr, who signed contracts with both the Belize City Defenders and the Belize Hurricanes, the Office of the Commissioner demanded “the members of the league cease and desist from making any defamatory statements against the Office of the Commissioner”.
The Office of the Commissioner, led by Commissioner Christopher McGann, said it was aware of the press conference where “certain seriously defamatory statements were made concerning the Office of Commissioner, impugning criminal and improper conduct on the part of the Commissioner and his Office. These statements are untrue and constitute libel against the Commissioner and his Office.”
The Office of the Commissioner said that “As a result, sanctions will be issued against all relevant parties who have brought the league into disrepute and have failed to follow the Bylaws that prohibit the publishing or posting of negative comments regarding the Office of the Commissioner and the league.”
The BEBL even urged “any person or media house to refrain from further publishing or sharing those defamatory statements”.
The Office of the Commissioner statement reviewed the Smith case saying that “it was accepted that the player had executed contracts with both parties” and that “the Appeals Tribunal was consulted and agreed to hear the matter” and “in its determination, the Tribunal ruled on the validity of one of the contracts.”
The Tribunal, also known as the Appeals Committee, ruled that only the Hurricanes contract was valid overturning a previous decision by the Commissioner that the players should be suspended for a year, according to the bye-laws for having signed two contracts.
The Office of the Commissioner that even if the members don’t agree with the Appeals Committee’s decision, they should abide by it and that if they are still dissatisfied “it is within their right to take any appropriate legal action they see fit” but added that “until and unless such recourse is sought, members of the league should abide by the Bylaws of the league and the outcome of processes initiated under those Bylaws”.
The five teams (Defenders, Western Ballaz, Orange Walk Running Rebels, Belmopan Tigaz, and Griga Dream Ballers) said at their press conference earlier on Wednesday in a prepared statement that they disagreed with the decision of the Appeals Committee because it would set a bad precedent and that if the Hurricanes insist on fielding Smith, they will not show up to play at Hurricanes’ home games and that if he is fielded otherwise, the Hurricanes will forfeit those games.
“Any Hurricanes away game in which they fielded the Player would result in forfeiture without the home team having to file an appeal and that they would also not be participating in scheduled Hurricanes home games,” said the statement.
“The Commissioner was informed that the only foreseeable resolution at this time was an agreement in writing to be signed by both the Belize Hurricanes and the Commissioner, stipulating that they would abide by the collective decision made by the Owners on February 3, 2023 and would make no further attempt to subvert this decision or cause or attempt to cause further damage to the League and it’s member teams. A response was requested by the Owners from the Commissioners Office by 8PM of that same day however other than to acknowledge receipt of the communication, no response has been forthcoming.”
That was until today when the Office of the Commissioner demanded they “cease and desist”.
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