Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Rollers bow out of CAS case

Township Rollers have finally withdrawn their case from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). After a lot of negotiations and persuasion, the team management is said to have relented to the new regime’s request to withdraw the matter. 

According to sources close to Rollers, the decision to withdraw was taken at the team’s committee meeting this past Wednesday. The withdrawal of the CAS case is expected to bring closure the tumultuous 2015/2016 season, something which the Botswana Football Association (BFA) President Maclean Letshwiti has long craved for. 

For now the withdrawal casts aspersions on who are the eventual winners of the beMobile League as the matter was taken to CAS to decide on that. A play-off ordered by the BFA during the pending CAS case saw Rollers trounce Mochudi Centre Chiefs 5-1. 

Immediately after assuming the reins at the BFA, Letshwiti pleaded with Rollers to withdraw the case, something which Rollers seemed intent to cast aside at one point. 

Addressing the media in his recent press briefing, Letshwiti seemed resigned to the point that the case would eventually go to the CAS, despite “an agreement” between him and Rollers that they would withdraw the case. “One of the things that I did when I got into office was to try and close the league, not legally, but amicably. I always believe you do not achieve anything through the courts, but you achieve much more around the table. I approached the people concerned to withdraw the case and declare a (league) winner. 

“We had an agreement, but subsequent to that there were other issues and that was not to be. So, as we speak, which is very strange, we still don’t have a winner … the matter is still with CAS and CAS will decide the winner. Maybe this is a good thing because from this case we will learn a lot. So maybe this is the best thing that should happen to all of us so that going forward in future, at least we will understand the dynamics of the case,” 

Letshwiti resignedly said at the time. However, following some further negotiations and concessions, Rollers have now finally withdrawn their case. The news of the withdrawal was confirmed by Rollers’ Secretary General Khumoyame Masonya. 

“As you are aware, even though we had agreed with the BFA leadership in principle to withdraw the case, there were some outstanding issues that we wanted addressed before we could withdraw the case. These issues have finally been addressed and we can now confidently withdraw the case,” the Rollers’ Secretary General said in an interview. 

However, Masonya could not divulge what the outstanding issues were. Asked whether the withdrawal did not come as the Rollers hierarchy was afraid of losing the case and eventually the league title as had been the belief, Masonya said losing the case had nothing to do with the decision. 

He, however, said rather they had to finally accede to the BFA NEC request as the incoming committee had made it known they want to start on a clean slate. Despite Masonya’s refusal to divulge what other outstanding issues delayed the withdrawal of the case, Sunday Standard Sports has learned from good authority that the team hierarchy felt that proper consultations with the other party, Gilport Lions, had not been done. “Their fear was that if they withdrew, Gilport Lions would demand that they reimburse them all the monies they had used when preparing for the CAS case,” a source said. However, Masonya denied this, saying Rollers did not fear losing the case. He also said as far as they were concerned, paying back Gilport Lions was not part of the issues.  Reached for comment, BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kitso Kemoeng confirmed that the case had been withdrawn from CAS. He said the BFA received a letter from CAS on Thursday morning confirming that the case had been withdrawn. 

However, contrary to Masonya’s assertion that Rollers and BFA had been negotiating on the matter, Kemoeng said ever since Rollers failed to withdraw the case, they had not engaged on it again. “When it became clear that we had failed in our endeavours to get Rollers to withdraw the case, there were no further consultations on the issue of CAS,” Kemoeng said. As to who will pay the costs, Kemoeng said CAS had hinted it would make an order on the matter.

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