Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2023. 5:32 pm CST.
Photos Credit: Port Layola FC – Verdes FC
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: After beating the San Pedro Pirates on the weekend, Port Layola claimed the top spot in Premier League of Belize just to lose the standing due to a Football Federation of Belize (FFB) Appeals Committee ruling that the Belize City club fielded an ineligible player against Verdes when they played on January 29.
The FFB Appeals Committee ruled that Argentine player Jonathan Moschini, who played in the last few minutes of the January 29 match in which Port won 2-1 over Verdes at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, hadn’t been properly transferred to Port Layola. The decision means that though Port beat Verdes 2-1, they end up forfeiting the game and the victory is given to Verdes according to the PLB Byelaws and FIFA standard procedure, as a 3-0 win. The goals scored during the game are annulled, meaning that the goalscorers, Gilroy ‘Bredda’ Thurton and Michael Palacio for Port and Marco Antonio Zavala for Verdes, lose a goal each.
After the January 29 game, Verdes filed a protest based on the refereeing of the game and the eligibility of Moschini.
Since player registration is done through the FFB, the PLB referred the matter to the FFB which launched an investigation and found out that Port Layola had registered the player under what is being termed as false pretense. All clubs registered under FIFA are supposed to have a FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) Manager who is given access to the FIFA platform for international player transfers.
When a club wants a foreign player who isn’t in the country, the club must request an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) for that player and when they get it, the club then proceeds to register the player with the local federation, in this case the FFB. When a foreign player has already been playing in a country, meaning his ITC is already registered with that country’s federation, that player can move to another club, through a domestic transfer, without having to go through the TMS and can be transferred from club to club just like national players.
What complicated the matter for Port Layola is that they don’t have a TMS Manager so they couldn’t have requested the ITC directly from the FIFA TMS. They allegedly got the player through another club that didn’t register the player with the FFB. According to the FFB ruling, Port didn’t follow the process and acted under false pretense in registering the player. So, Moschini was deemed ineligible. Had the club registered the player with the FFB and then transferred the player to Port, everything would have been alright.
The FFB Competition Director allegedly didn’t know that Port didn’t have a TMS Manager and registered the player once Moschini’s ITC was presented.
Despite the FFB’s findings that the game should be forfeited by Port and three points awarded to Verdes, the PLB’s Disciplinary Committee ruled that the player was eligible.
Verdes appealed to the FFB’s Appeals Committee which stood by the FFB investigation findings and ruled that Port had forfeited the game by their action and the three points were awarded to Verdes.
The resulting situation is that Port, who had 14 points, lose the three points, and drop to 11. They also fall from first place to second place ahead of Verdes who move up from eight points to 11. The San Pedro Pirates regain their top spot with 13 points. However, despite losing three points, Port are still in the fight to win the Closing Championship considering eight games are left in the competition.
Port players and fans have taken to social media criticizing the ruling saying that the powers that be are doing so to help Verdes in their efforts to qualify to the Concacaf League Championship. In the cumulative standings, Verdes are now just three points, instead of six, behind Opening Championship Champions Altitude.
The FFB Appeals Committee is the highest appeal body within the FFB. To go beyond, Port Layola would have to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland.
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