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CAS dismisses   NPL appeal   against NFA

2021-06-22  Otniel Hembapu

CAS dismisses   NPL appeal   against NFA
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In its final arbitral award, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday dismissed the Namibia Premier League (NPL) appeal against the Namibia Football Association (NFA), and ordered that both the league and FA each bear their legal costs.

In its appeal launched last year in March, the NPL had asked CAS to overturn its suspension by the NFA and to also nullify the outcome of the football association’s elective congress held last year, which elected Ranga Haikaki as president.

After thoroughly reviewing evidence and supporting documents submitted by the NPL and NFA, the Switzerland-based court’s sole arbitrator Luingi Famagali argued that after its suspension and subsequent expulsion by the NFA at its 16th extraordinary congress in July last year, the NPL failed to legally challenge their expulsion and that led to the finality of their banishment as a member of the NFA.

“In fact, the appellant (NPL), by resolution adopted at the 16th Extraordinary Congress of 18 July 2020, was expelled by the NFA. Such resolution was not challenged and therefore became final. As a result of the expulsion from the NFA, the Appellant eventually lost its membership rights in the NFA. As a result, being no longer a member of the NFA, the NPL no longer has an actual interest in obtaining a declaration of invalidity and the setting aside of the resolutions adopted by the
NFA, including those adopted at the 28th Ordinary Congress: from a legal point of view, the appellant, in its current position, would derive no actual and effective advantage
by the setting aside of the challenged decisions. Indeed, the appellant’s membership rights would not
be restored even if illegality would be found in the challenged decisions; the submissions that the appellant sustained additional damages because of the mere suspension remained largely unsubstantiated and in any case, any such damages would appear to be linked to the suspension of membership rights that were subsequently and finally lost,” argued Famagali.

The NPL’s only hope now lies with the National Appeals Committee, which will meet this coming weekend to further look into the NPL’s pending application for a license to run and manage a professional football league. 

In a press statement yesterday, the NPL said: “The NPL has noted the decision issued by the sole arbitrator, Luingi Famagali, in particular where he affirms that the NPL’s suspension lapsed when the Namibia Football Association (NFA) failed to submit the suspension of the NPL at the 15th Extraordinary Congress of 09 November 2019, resulting in the conclusion that the NPL’s membership rights were restored and that it had the full right to be invited, participate and to attend the 28th Ordinary Congress of 22 February 2020. 

This has always been the basis upon which the NPL approached the CAS (16 March 2020) and the NPL is pleased that its legal position has been vindicated. The CAS arbitral award was forwarded to counsel for advice on possible appeal to the court’s with respect to the finding that any declaratory relief is ‘academic’. Pending that, we make no further comments herein. 

Notwithstanding, the NPL lost its membership rights in the NFA because of its expulsion at the 16th extraordinary congress of 18 July 2020. You will recall that this decision the NPL accepted in July 2020. Thus, its decision to incorporate in terms of section 21 of the Companies Act 28 of 2004 and subsequent application for a professional license pursuant to section 26 of Namibia Sports Act 12 of 2003, to the Sports Commission of Namibia. 

This application process remains pending with the Appeals Committee. A hearing of the Appeals Committee is scheduled for 26 June 2021. Due communication in this regard will be issued at the appropriate time.”

2021-06-22  Otniel Hembapu

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