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Zambia: Will Zambia Score Boardroom Victory Against Sudan?

From the time it became known that Sudan, which beat Zambia 2-0 in a world cup qualifying match in Khartoum on 2 June, used an ineligible player, Zambian netizens have been hoping and praying that FIFA would award three points to the African champions.

Zambians were hoping that a FIFA meeting on 22 June would give them the much anticipated boardroom victory which was not to be. The world soccer governing body deferred the case apparently because of “insufficient information available.”

FAZ Logo

Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) logo. Image courtesy of FAZ website

A citizen media website dedicated to football coverage, quoting a FIFA media department statement, reported:

This item was not on the agenda of the disciplinary committee meeting of today [Friday, June 22, 2012]. At the moment, FIFA is looking into the matter and expecting to receive more information, so it will still take a bit of time.

When it became apparent that Sudan had used Saif El Din Ali, one of the two-goal scorers of the match, who was on suspension apparently for receiving two yellow cards, Zambian netizens were rubbing the proverbial palms for a windfall three points.

On 15 June, FIFA was forced to issue a statement denying a strong rumour that had swept the internet that Zambian had been awarded three points from the game. Reported the Zambian Watchdog:

World soccer governing body FIFA has dismissed reports in Zambia that Chipolopolo has been awarded three points after it complained Sudan used an ineligible player in a Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Fans in Zambia Friday afternoon went agog when rumors circulated that Chipolopolo had been awarded three points.

The internet was awash with understandable congratulatory and celebratory messages from various individuals and apparently established media houses that Zambia had leaped to top Group D with six points which was albeit based on unconfirmed reports.

The rumour meant that Zambia, currently third on the log table with three points, was going to leap frog to the top of leaders Ghana, Sudan and Lesotho.

The Football Association of Ghana, the star-studded team Zambia beat during last year’s Africa Cup of Nations championship and beat again in the Brazil 2014 World Cup campaign in early June, expressed anger at insinuations that their bitter rivals would be awarded three points for Sudan’s infringement of rules and regulations.

Zambia won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2012. AFCON trophy is the most coveted trophy in African soccer. Image released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Shasta

Reported a Zambian news website, Tumfweko:

The Ghanians feel it is unfair to award Zambia the 3 points who will automatically shoot to top the group on 6 points.

Some netizens had no kind words for Sudan which labelled Zambia “desperate” for not complaining within the necessary 48 hours against the use of an ineligible player. Vincent V. Zulu wrote:

If Zambia wanted to complain properly they must do that before or after the game within 48 hours and not almost a week later.” Gaafar said angrily, So they wanted Zambia to alert them?, The Sudanese are they stupid, where on earth do you alert your enemy about an invasion? FIFA will have to watch the match and they shall see that the ground was very hard so that Chipolopolo do not play their game, also when Sudan scored their Ball Boys were not giving the Zambians the ball And that stupid Goalkeeper was also playing delaying tactics.

It is, however, Gilbert Kalonde who captured Zambia’s predicament well when he asked a former FAZ administrator if we stood a chance of winning the case:

Bro Sims Simataa, do you think we have a chance in Zurich against Sudan? I think your impeccable experience in Soccer Administration puts you in a position that can help a lot of us understand what we are up against and prepare our minds for the outcome. I have read extensively about the rules, but knowing how this can be applied to our problem still eludes my sincere knowledge about how FIFA acts and behaves regarding such. As we all know disciplinary incidents arising from FIFA sanctioned matches are dealt with in compliance with the FIFA Disciplinary Code. In fact according to Article 8 Para. 2 of the Regulations for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, protests regarding eligibility of players are to be decided according to the FIFA Disciplinary Code. The onus for fielding only eligible players is left to the national associations themselves.

According to Article 18 Paragraph 4 of the Code, a player who is expelled from a game, by being shown a red card, is automatically suspended from the subsequent match. Indisputable that the Sudanese player was shown a red card, therefore suspended for the match against Zambia in Khartoum.

Article 55 Para.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code further provides that: ” If a player takes part in an official match despite being ineligible, his team will be sanctioned by forfeiting the match and paying a minimum fine of CHF 6,000″. Again, indisputable that Saif El Din Ali did play and scored a goal while serving a 2 game ban.

With regard to forfeiting the match, the FIFA Disciplinary Code in Article 31 para.1 emphasizes that: “A team sanctioned with a forfeit is considered to have lost the match by 3-0″.

Now here is the crux of the matter, Zambia did not file or protest to the match officials within the 1 hour time given, and also did not file with FIFA within 72 hour time allotted for such. The aspect of limited time periods for launching protests has been introduced by the Regulations for 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil. However, to my understanding, the over-aching law with regards to all disciplinary matters is the FIFA Disciplinary Code. This Code does not impose time limits in lodging of protests with regard to eligibility of players.
Do you think FIFA will punish Sudan and give Zambia the crucial 3 points which may put us on the pathway to Brazil?

Replied Simataa:

On a point of laughter I hear we have back date[d] the ‘appeal’ lol. On a serious note if the letter of the word is followed we failed to appeal on time and do not deserve anything

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