Why Fifa trashed SDT ruling and ordered incumbents to remain in office

Friday, March 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa.

 Webster Nyandika


Following Wednesday’s strong response from world football governing body Fifa to a ruling made by the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) chairman John Ohaga on March 17, its is clear that the global body prefers aggrieved parties file heir complaints at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which they recognise, instead of the local tribunal.

In his two-page response to proposals by SDT last week, Fifa’s Chief Officer of Member Associations Veron Mosengo-Omba did not mince his words by stating that the world governing body does not recognise SDT as the ultimate arbitration forum at national level and quoted Fifa circular 1010 dated December 20, 2005, which calls for the principle of parity when constituting the arbitration tribunal; right to an independent and impartial tribunal; principle of a fair hearing; right to contentious proceedings and principle of equal treatment.

In the case of SDT, Fifa could have felt that since the tribunal was formed by the government, it may not meet the said threshold.

According to article eight section two of the current Fifa statutes, it states that: “Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a nromalisation committee for a specific period of time.”

Through this, it is clear that there is no way Fifa could have gone against it’s own statutes and allowed the formation of Normalisation Committee as requested by SDT.

SDT is a  statutory organ established through a judicial process on the model of a magistrate’s court with members appointed by the government and who sit collegially. It is not an arbitral tribunal as contemplated by FIFA’s circular 1010.

Whereas it provides a forum for hearing contentious matters, it fails two crucial tests of an arbitral tribunal.

First, parties to proceedings have no input or choice in the constitution of the panel hearing the matters.

A principal feature of an arbitral tribunal is that parties are involved in the determination of the persons to sit in the hearing of their matter.

Where they cannot agree, there is provision of an independent process for the appointment of the tribunal.

The SDT has a members appointed by the government without any input of the parties and neither do parties have any choice on who will hear their dispute.

Arbitral tribunals like CAS have a very elaborate procedure for parties to appoint arbitrators who they want to hear their matters and which leads to very transparent and acceptable dispute resolution procedures.

Secondly, SDT does not have a provision or procedure for the exclusion of members from hearing a dispute where parties have legitimate doubt as to their independence for instance where the chairman is clearly biased or conflicted, FKF cannot exclude him from the SDT hearing of any matter.

Lupientem nos si ipsam que prepudis necea con reicipsa volore et velisci pitiorr ovidiore nis aut etur asin rerum laut volupta tibusamus.

The term of office for FKF president and NEC is provided by the FKF statutes.FIFA has found that there is no contravention of the said statutes so no violation of any law has been shown. -The writer is a sports journalist currently studying sports law

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