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FIFA won't get involved in PSL-Ajax dispute

Tendai Ndoro scored on debut for Ajax Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

FIFA's Player Status Committee has not accepted the case involving South Africa's Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Ajax Cape Town because the rules and regulations over player eligibility are clear in the country.

This has been revealed by the chairman of the committee, South African Raymond Hack, who also suggested that, in his opinion, Ajax were at fault and that should the matter eventually end up in Zurich, they could well be found guilty.

South African football has been thrown into chaos, with the start of the season likely to be postponed indefinitely while as the PSL return to court to try and have a judgement against them set aside.

The PSL's Board of Governors are likely to rubber-stamp the move when they meet on Thursday, but the earliest the matter can be heard is July 30, with the South Gauteng High Court in recess until then. The league is scheduled to start on August 3.

Ajax have already said they will interdict the start of the league if the PSL challenge Judge Denise Fisher's ruling.

The PSL must persuade Fisher that her decision to set aside an arbitration ruling against Ajax, that saw the club automatically relegated to the National First Division, was wrong and that another judge would have found differently.

If she gives them leave to appeal then the process begins again, likely pushing the start of the season into September or even beyond.

That is because whoever is the aggrieved party at the end of that process will likely take the matter further and it could be locked in courts for months to come.

It is crisis time for the league, the clubs, sponsors and broadcasters, and with no resolution to the unending court challenges in sight, there have been calls for FIFA to step in.

But after Fisher said only FIFA should rule on the matter, Hack says they do not have jurisdiction on the case in this instance, because the PSL and SAFA have their own constitutions that cover this eventuality.

"The Players' Status Committee is established to ensure the rules and regulations of all transfers are complied with, and it also deals with all dispute resolutions and disciplinary matters where a club doesn't pay a player or a transfer fee and an agent doesn't get paid," Hack told SABC Radio's Sport On show.

"It deals with transfers from one international body to another, or players who have played for France's Under-19 side and now want to play senior football for Niger, for example."

Hack says they receive 12 to 30 new cases a day, and have 24 judges and 56 lawyers who work in the status committee.

"FIFA's attitude is that if you have your own rules and regulations, then you are bound to deal with it. FIFA will only deal with it if the rules and regulations are unclear.

"But SAFA have a constitution and the PSL have a constitution. The PSL have already referred the matter to their Dispute Resolution Chamber, they have referred it to the SAFA Appeal Board, and on that basis, they decided to go to FIFA to make a ruling.

"FIFA returned it to them to say we can't make a ruling at this stage because you have your own rules. You have to make a decision on it."

Hack said he would recuse himself from the matter if it does eventually end up with the committee, but offered an opinion on the case all the same.

"FIFA will turn around and say, 'Yes the player can be registered [with the league], but he can't participate [in matches] because this would be his third team.

"Maybe the club should have read the rules and regulations in the beginning, but club owners want results straight away. It becomes a question of 'I'll register the player, I'll play him, and if anybody objects I will worry about it then.'.

"It is now slightly different because there is a ruling from a judge [Fisher], but on the other hand FIFA say that you cannot go to court. So it is going to be tricky. My personal opinion is I think they will say that the player was entitled to be registered, but maybe he was not entitled to play in the games."

Hack suggested that it was up to Ajax to know that he could not feature for them and if they did not understand the rules, they should have clarified them before he took to the pitch.

"Why did the owners go and play him at that time? Why did the PSL allow him to be played? Your rules shouldn't allow a gap like this.

"Clubs agree to be bound by the rules and regulations of the PSL. So you would assume they would read the rules and regulations. How many chairmen have actually read the rules; what do you appoint a [team] manager for?

"When you put those 11 players on the field, you have to be satisfied as a coach that all 11 are eligible."

Ajax were the third club that Ndoro played for in the 2017/18 season after South African side Orlando Pirates and Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Faisaly.

The Cape Town club claim there were extenuating circumstances though and have vowed to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.