The Orange FA Cup last 16 matches were played this past weekend amid a lot of drama and controversies.
On Saturday, those attending the game between Extension Gunners and Orapa United at Lobatse were left aghast by what they deemed ‘inept performance’ of the match officials. For most of those who attended the game, bar match officials, the general feeling was that the Peleng side was robbed of two clear penalties.
By the end of the match which Gunners had lost 2 -4 on penalties, team coach Daniel Nare was lost for words at the performance of the referees. Commenting on the match officials, the usually vocal Nare opted ‘to leave them to God.’
On Sunday, it was Gaborone United who made it through to the last eight (8) after beating Crack It City Polar by a way of penalty shoot outs. After both teams played to a 1 – 1 draw, GU won the ensuing penalties 3 – 0 for an aggregate 4 – 1 win.
GU’s win has however been marred by controversy after the team exploited the ambiguity of Botswana Football Association (BFA) play rules and regulations as well as those of the Orange FA Cup. While it is a norm for teams to field only three foreigners during a match, GU did the most as they listed four of theirs in the match sheet and used them all during the course of the game.
Unfortunately for the teams at the receiving end, their fate will lie only in the hands of the FA Cup organizing committee. Under article 5.1 of BFA Orange FA Cup Rules and Regulations, “No protest whatsoever shall be allowed in the Orange FA Cup competition. However, the Organizing Committee shall have the powers to review and deal administratively with any reported irregularities.”
Local football commentator Monty Gagomokgwa says if the rules are as they read, it would be unfortunate for our football. He says the ambiguity of the regulations would leave the game prone to exploitation by teams.
“The regulations leave everything in the hands of the LOC. But as it is, teams cannot protest if they believe there are irregularities. Not being allowed to lodge protests goes against the spirit of fair play,” Gagomokgwa opines.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one administrator says while protests are not allowed, the LOC has the power to intervene. He says where there are irregularities, the FA Cup LOC can take action against offending teams.
In the case of GU fielding four foreigners, the administrator says there is little or nothing that can be done as the team did not violate the play rules and regulations. He says the current regulations are silent on the number of foreign players that can be fielded during a match.
According to article 6.3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), “A club in the Botswana Football League may not have more than five (5) foreign players contracted with it at any point in time.” article 6.4 however states that “A club in the Botswana Football League may include a maximum of three (3) of its registered foreign players in the starting line-up for each match.”
“If you look at these regulations, the number of foreign players allowed to play is only restricted to three in the starting lineup. Now, what happens after the game has started? As the rules are, one the game has started, you can play all your foreign players. there is no rule against it. The rule is only against having them in the starting eleven (11) and there is nowhere in the RSTP where it is stated that you should maintain a maximum of three foreign players throughout the match,” the administrator explains.
Another administrator, who also commented on condition of anonymity says the current rules offer room for exploitation by unscrupulous teams. “We need to carefully look at our rules and regulations and update them accordingly,” he says.
On the weight of what happened this weekend, the administrator says some teams will benefit while others will pay for the ambiguity of the football regulations.