FIFA fines GU P400K
In a land mark case that was first reported to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber by Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB), the former has issued a stern fine to Gaborone United in a matter involving one of its former players, Appiah Bismarck.
Bismarck had reported the matter to FUB after he received a termination letter dated January 04, 2016 from GU. The release letter, signed by GU secretary general, City Senne informed Bismarck that his contract was prematurely terminated.
He was later to argue that his two year contract, which was initially supposed to end in May 2017, was terminated without just cause or sporting just cause. After a series of correspondences with GU, FUB later complained in February 2016 that the team had continued to ignore them and in return opting to continue unlawfully terminating players’ contracts against FIFA’s principles of creating contractual stability.
GU did not bother to engage the union further and it was then that the matter was first referred to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber in April 2016. Within five days of receipt of FUB’s complaint, FIFA responded asking for some additional information among them, the power of attorney, grounds of the claim and other relevant documents
To this end, in its argument to FIFA, FUB prayed for an order compelling GU to compensate the player for the remainder of his contract. Parallel to this process and some time at the end of February 2016, Bismarck had through his legal representatives, International Sports Law Centre wrote to Nicolas Zakhem demanding that the player be paid the 16 months left on his contract, according to FIFA article 21 and 67 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Status committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber conditions for professional players. GU was therefore asked to pay a total of USD39 000 for the remainder of the contract.
When asked why the opted to report the matter to FIFA, FUB secretary general Kgosana Masaseng said, in 2016 when they were handling the matter, the current dispute resolution chamber was not yet established. On the merits of the case, Masaseng said as FUB, they felt that the unlawful termination of players’ contracts was designed to damage the players standing in the eyes of future potential players.
After Bismarck left the country to try his luck in Eastern Europe, FUB agreed to hand over the matter to his lawyers led by Ercan Sevdimbas. Two years later, this matter now seems to be far from over. It turns out that GU has been ignoring a FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber judgement issued on the 29th September 2016.
It therefore came as no surprise that in March 2018, FIFA through the deputy secretary of the disciplinary committee, Alexander Jacobs notified GU that they had not acted in accordance with the decision passed by the dispute resolution chamber judge in 2016. The communique said, this was a violation of article 64 of the FIFA disciplinary code and as such, it will be the subject of an investigation by the FIFA disciplinary committee. The committee has therefore initiated disciplinary proceedings against GU in respect of a violation of article 64 of the Dispute Resolution Chamber.
Furthermore, the letter from FIFA to the attention of the association hints that GU’s case will be submitted to a member of the FIFA disciplinary committee for evaluation in accordance with Article 78 of the FIFA disciplinary committee so that disciplinary measures (fine, deduction of points, and relegation to lower league) may be imposed on the club.
In light of this, FIFA urged GU to immediately Bismarck the outstanding amount due (USD39 500 plus 5% interest per annum) to be calculated in accordance with the decision of the Dispute Resolution Chamber judge dated 29th September 2016.
GU was given until April 3rd 2018 to pay the outstanding amounts. Accordingly, the team had not met the deadline by press time and it now appears that the matter will be submitted to a member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for consideration and a formal decision is expected within the next week.
When reached for clarity GU’s Secretary General City Senne said they have communicated with FIFA on how they can play the player. According to Senne, the team is waiting FIFA reply. According to an insider at the team, although Bismarck was signed by Dragojlo Stanojlovic, the coach did not believe in the services of the player. The source said the club is in this mess because of the coach who is also in the process of filing a claim against the team for the unfair termination of his contract.
Meanwhile FUB has indicated that after a landmark agreement with FIFA, players’ welfare issues have been given a priority. “The BFA has also joined other associations by establishing the Dispute Resolution Chamber and we are pleased with this development as most of our players have been subjected to a lot of unfair labour practises,” Masaseng said.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”