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Nato ruling: The implications

Defaulter:  Ofentse Nato

High flying Township Rollers have finally succumbed to a lower trench of defeat after losing a long standing legal battle against Gilport Lions over the registration of midfielder Ofentse Nato.

The team perched at the summit of the log standings had their bubble burst when the Botswana Football Association National Disciplinary Committee (BFA DC) categorically stated that the player, in the eye of the storm, was improperly registered thus contravening football laws.

The judgment deliberated and read Tuesday night meant that the Gaborone West based giants will lose 3 points and 2 goals in favor of Gilport Lions.

To further pull Rollers into the jaws of the law, the team has been instructed to pay BWP 1000 for every game that the Zebras assistant captain has played, and his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) has been peculiarly cancelled.

The BFA DC took their decision leaning on FIFA-world football governing body statutes. Article 22 states that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association.

As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period. Associations are authorised to register such professionals provided due consideration is given to the sporting integrity of the relevant competition. Where a contract has been terminated with just cause, FIFA may take provisional measures in order to avoid abuse.

Gilport Lions argued that Nato’s contract expired on December of 2015 and to register him outside the window period of January was with an intention of bending the rules.

The consequences of the matter immediately pronounce worry and anxiety on the team that looked ready to step onto the podium as be-MOBILE premiership kings.

With three points deducted, the team will no longer enjoy the comfort of running on to the last two hurdles as firm favorites. As things stand, a solitary point separates them from rivals Orapa United. Rollers have gone down to 61 points while United has 60.

TITLE RACE TILT

After the conclusion of week 27 games, Rollers were meters away from their destiny, having brushed aside a spirited Police XI side by a solitary goal.

The stubborn Mark Harrison side needed to confirm that they are champions, with only one game to spare. No doubt that ailing Serowe based outfit, Green Lovers were never going to be a stumbling block.

The judgment has now changed dynamics for the champions elect. While pressure is a mountain with the team synonymous with paying ‘fat salaries’, the last game against tricky Orapa United is now carrying more significance.

Gilport Lions might be boasting with the expected ‘soft points’, but the pendulum is now swinging clearly between Orapa United and Township Rollers. Holders of the beMOBILE trophy, Mochudi Centre Chiefs are mathematically in the race, but endless boardroom and technical team wars put a dent in their intent of mounting a convincing challenge.  
Should both Rollers and Orapa United continue with their impressive form, their match scheduled for the 7th of May promises to be a memorable one.

SEQUENCE OF NATO REGISTRATION

Documents perused by WeekendSport revealed a transfer scam almost manufactured under the most shrouded circumstances to have the Mogobane born player registered at the premier league before the closure of January transfer window.

Background information showed that on Monday 1st of February, when the Botswana Premier League issued a press release to confirm completed transfers of players, Ofentse Nato’s name was not appearing. This was the case because Botswana Football Association (BFA), an overseer of the premier league, had made it clear that registration of players (whether new or old), transfers or loaning of players shall not be allowed after the 31st of January.

While the status of Nato, whose other name is Moepi, is before independent bodies, the view point from other quarters is that the former Gaborone United midfielder could have still been registered outside the transfer window only after his status was first dealt with.

The discrepancies surrounding the 27 year player’s transfer emanates from the license form to certificates of fitness. As per procedure, this publication learnt that once the license is granted by a relevant football authority, all other needed documentation should have already been dealt with. Ofentse Nato’s playing license indicates that it was issued on January 31st. In it, a date of 8th February 2016 was captured regarding his fitness, and does not correspond with that of the medical certificate issued by one Dr Lambert.  Nato was thus certified fit to play on the 10th of February 2016. The license form bears signatures of the player, Rollers’ Secretary General, Khumo Masonya and the medical doctor.

All India Football Federation  issued Nato’s  transfer certificate on 9th of February 2016, 7 days after the player penned a four months deal with the high flying Township Rollers.

The abnormally is that all these were completed after the license was issued.

Further, it was discovered that on the 5TH of February 2016, a letter without an addressee was issued stating that Nato had ended his contract with Athletico De Kolkata on 22nd December 2015. The letter bears the stamp of the premier league but curiously, the stamp of Athletico De Kolkata is not appearing. It reads in part, ‘‘for appropriate purposes, we communicate that Ofentse Nato has ended his contract with Athletico De Kolkata on 22.12.2015.’’

While it is a matter of fact that on the 2nd of February 2016, the towering midfielder signed a contract with Popa, other evidence suggests that the player through his agent was negotiating with former local club, Gaborone United as late as on 5th February 2016.
 

How it happened
 

Chronology of Nato transfer
January 31st- license application form was stamped and issued
O2 February- Nato signed contract with Rollers
10th February- Nato ‘s fitness was examined
5th February-release letter issued from De Kolkata
9th February- Nato international transfer Certificate was issued

WHAT THEY SAID

Gilport Lions Chairman, Kelesitse Gilika said his team was following principle and not necessarily three points. He asserted that Lions were not fighting Rollers but wanted football to be the winner at the end of the day.

Township Rollers media liaison, Phempheretlhe Bafana Pheto said that the club was waiting for a printed judgment before making an official statement. He pointed out that Nato will not be playing more so that his transfer certificate has been revoked.

BFA Chief Executive Officer, Kitso Kemoeng added that they are still studying the judgment carefully and will comply with the orders after fully understanding all the details.

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