Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Club Licensing System: The end of football legal wars?

When explaining the legal criteria used to license clubs at a seminar hosted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to discuss the Club Licensing System (CLS), one of the instructors, Suzgo Nyirenda said for clubs to be compliant they will have to abide by the FIFA statutes.

He added that before clubs can be licensed they will have to submit a legally valid declaration affirming their adherence to the FIFA statutes governing football matters. In their legal declaration, clubs will have to affirm they recognize as ‘legally binding the statutes, rules and regulations and decisions of FIFA, CAF, the member association and the national league.’  

Nyirenda, who also is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), said under the CLS, clubs will also have to recognize the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne as ‘having the sole jurisdiction to resolve disputes of international concern for clubs.’ Still in the same legal declaration, clubs must affirm they recognize ‘the prohibition to seek recourse from ordinary courts of law to resolve football issues as per the FIFA and CAF statutes.’

The CAF CLS instructor said he is hopeful that the new legal criteria will help the BFA and the BPL to deal decisively with issues relating to taking football matters to ordinary courts. He expressed concern that the BFA is beset with impending court cases, despite existing FIFA statues that prevent such, adding that the BFA must not exercise leniency when dealing with clubs that take football issues to court. Nyirenda said as the custodians of football in Botswana, the BFA must not shy away from taking action against truant clubs and owners, no matter how influential they are. Quizzed by seminar attendants on whether this extends to internal club squabbles like the ones afflicting local football, Nyirenda said ‘the legal criteria will forbid any form of football issue being taken to court, whether internal or otherwise.’

On how to deal with the laws governing sports as per the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Act, Nyirenda implored the BFA to desist from relying on the BNSC Act, but rather to try establish its own rules that align with those of FIFA and CAF. The FAM CEO said the BNSC Act must not be used as an excuse by the BFA and the BPL not to exert full control over football matters in the country. Still on other issues relating to the legal criteria requirements for licensing purposes, the CAF instructor said compliance with the CLS will also ensure ‘proper ownership and control of clubs.’ In their submission for licensing under the CLS, clubs will be required to ‘submit a legally valid declaration confirming people involved in the management, administration, and/or sporting performance of the club, either directly or indirectly.’ As part of ensuring proper ownership and control, clubs will be required to submit the names of entities or people who control the club, names of shareholders, as well as names of any people involved in ‘any capacity whatsoever in the management, administration and/or sporting performance’ within the club.

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