Township Rollers and the Botswana Premier League (BPL) have denied any wrongdoing in processing the transfer of Ofentse Nato. In response to accusations levelled by Gilport Lions that they fraudulently registered Nato, both Rollers and the BPL maintained there was nothing unprocedural about the player’s registration.
Gilport Lions have lodged a complaint against Rollers’ use of Nato when the two sides met in a beMOBILE Premier League match on Valentine’s Day, which Lions lost 0 ÔÇô 3. Gilport Lions representative Lore Morapedi submitted that as per the BFA’s Circular 27, no team is allowed to register a player outside the transfer window. He further said the circular has not been amended and the people who authorized Nato’s registration had no powers to override the BFA Circular, which renders his registration null and void.
Lions also queried the backdating of some papers used during Nato’s registration, saying it was fraudulent as it was used to circumvent the system used in registration of players. Lions argued that the BPL backdated the dates of Nato’s registration to the last date of the transfer window-January 31st ÔÇôto ensure that his registration could be accept by the system.
“While a player can be registered outside the window, the application should be done within the transfer window. Proper procedures and due diligence were not followed in Nato’s registration,” argued Gilport Lions.
The team further said Nato’s registration should have been handled by the Players’ Status Committee (PSC), just as they were instructed to seek clarity with the PSC when they registered Ozias Sibande outside the transfer window five months ago.
In his answering affidavit, Rollers representative Kgosietsile Ngakaagae denied any fraud or intention thereof, saying it was a norm for registration dates to be backdated when players are registered outside the transfer window.
“This is meant to ensure players names can be accepted by the system, which is configured to specific dates, being the transfer window period,” said Ngakaagae.
He argued that even Sibande’s registration papers were backdated when he was registered by Gilport Lions, such that if backdating Nato’s registration was fraudulent, the Sibande was also improperly registered. Ngakaagae further said there was no need for Nato’s registration to be handled by the PSC as there were no issues or disputes that needed clarity regarding his status. He said in the case of Sibande, Gilport were substituting him (Sibande) for another foreign player, Mlungisi Ndlovu hence the need to seek clarity as to whether Ndlovu was not being unfairly dismissed to make way for Sibande.
“When Nato was registered, he was a free agent and his contract with Atletico de Kolkata had lapsed. As per the FIFA guidelines, the player could be signed at any given time outside the transfer window, just as Sibande was registered two months after the transfer window had closed,” argued Ngakaagae.
For his part, BPL Prosecutor Tshiamo Rantao said Nato’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC) would not have been issued if there were any outstanding issues or disputes. He said for the certificate to be issued, all the information relating to a player must have been loaded into the Transfer Matching System (TMS), a programme used to simplify and improve transparency and flow of information in the transfer of international players. Rantao also argued that the Circular issued by the BFA CEO concerning transfers cannot be used to override the FIFA statutes relating to the status and transfer of players. He also concurred with Rollers representatives that the backdating of registration papers was a process undertaken to ensure that dates on registration fall within the system’s configured dates. Judgment on the matter has been deferred to a date yet to be announced.