NFA/NPL dispute at CAS far from over

By Michael Uugwanga

THE dispute before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and Namibia Premier League (NPL) could take longer than expected since the case is still in its early stages, and has been overshadowed by momentous events related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The case was filed in February by chairperson of the NPL Patrick Kauta over the suspension of the NPL from the NFA as member and the exclusion of Kauta and Mpasi Haingura from February’s NFA’s elective congress held in Windhoek on 22 February. The congress elected as its president Ranga Haikali, who is also cited as a respondent in the case. Both Kauta and Haingura objected to Haikali’s candidature.

Kauta and Haingura were excluded from running for top NFA jobs, following a decision by the Normalisation Committee – consisting of chairperson Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, her deputy Franco Cosmos, Vivienne Katjiuongua, Gaby Ahrens and Matti Mwandingi – to suspend the NPL over non-compliance.

The case [Patrick Kauta and Mpasi Haingura v Namibia Football Association & Christiaan Ranga Haikali] is currently before the CAS. Speaking to Confidente Sport from Lausanne, Switzerland, CAS communication officer Katy Hogg said it would be premature for CAS to give any updates on the matter, as the case is still in the early stages of proceedings.

“Please be advised that CAS is unable to provide detailed information regarding the arbitration procedures pending before it, nor is it able to express opinions regarding ongoing matters. As such, the only information that we can provide regarding the Namibia Premier League vs Namibia Football Association matter is that the CAS arbitration commenced on 16 March 2020, and that, as such, it is in its early stages. At this time, it is not possible to say when the final decision will be rendered,” Hogg said.

As all countries now scramble to contain COVID-19, the NPL’s case is likely to take longer than expected, unless it is deemed an urgent matter that needs urgent attention, because this case will determine the future of Namibian football, in particular the NPL, that was due to have started in August last year before the emergence of COVID-19.

The NPL was suspended last October for its apparent failure to follow the directive of the NFA to allow relegated clubs, Orlando Pirates and Civics, back into the league due to the fact that there were no teams to replace the two clubs in the league as there was no lower division football, due to lack of funds. The association also gave the league a directive to allow back Young African FC into the league, despite the club having been found guilty in 2019 of forging the identity papers of a Zimbabwean player.