Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ protest against Township Rollers to be disqualified from the Mascom Top 8 for fielding defaulters has been dismissed. This follows the Botswana Premier League (BPL) Disciplinary Committee (DC)’s ruling that the Kgatleng outfit was equally at fault (in pari delicto) of doing the same. The Kgatleng outfit had contended that Rollers had used two ineligible players, Ofentse Nato and Terrence Mandaza during their Mascom Top 8 semifinal clash at the Francistown Stadium on the 12th of March.
In their arguments, Chiefs said the fact that Rollers had registered and used both players after they (Rollers) had exhausted their quota renders the two players defaulters. In their submission, Chiefs, through Kanjabanga, argued that the registration and use of both Nato and Mandaza was in violation of article 2.3 of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Play Rules and Regulations.
Chiefs argued that while the stipulated article states that clubs ‘shall only register 25 players at any given time for their main team,’ Rollers had registered 28 players, thus exceeding the quota. Chiefs argued that as such, any player who was registered after the stipulated quota, as Nato and Mandaza had been, should not be used in official matches and should be deemed defaulters. The Kgatleng side pointed out that this was in line with Article 6.1.4 which defines a defaulter as ‘a player who is registered after any of the stipulated quotas have been exhausted.’ Chiefs’ argument was verified as correct by the BPL DC who ruled that both Nato and Mandaza are indeed defaulters. However, in their defence, Rollers, through their representative Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, had argued that all teams, including Chiefs, are in breach of Regulation 2.3 and have exceeded the quota of players.
“The evidence before us is that Rollers has registered a total of 28 players and they do not have any player from their junior team… There can be no doubt that both Mr Nato and Mr Mandaza’s registration by Rollers after they had exhausted their registration quota, renders the duo defaulters in terms of regulation 2.3,” DC Chairman Busang Manewe said in the ruling. Chiefs were however undone by the fact that they were also deemed to have breached the same Regulation, as per Rollers’ submission in the same matter.
“In the case at hand, the evidence clearly shows that the complaining party, Mochudi Centre Chiefs FC, is as guilty of registering players beyond the allowable quota as Township Rollers FC. The evidence also shows that all the 16 teams in the Premier League have registered players in excess of the threshold of 25 as set by Regulation 2.3. We therefore hold the parties herein are mutually at fault and therefore the law should leave the case as it finds it. Mochudi Centre Chiefs can therefore not be granted the remedies it seeks on the basis of the in pari delicto rule,” Manewe continued.
The DC further ruled that with all the teams, including Chiefs and Rollers having breached the Regulation, they have therefore ‘waived their rights to complain about the breach of Regulation 2.3 of the BFA Play Rules. “To punish Rollers for its failure to comply with Regulation 2.3 while everyone is guilty of the same conduct would not serve the interest of justice. Such an order is highly likely to open a floodgate of protest and turn the entire league and tournament into a huge circus,” Manewe and the BPL DC ruled. The DC then dismissed the protest ‘in the interest of the game of football in Botswana.’