Warri Wolves, missing players and ambiguous laws of football

In
Nigerian football, we create rules but hardly respect or play by them and this
has been one of our biggest problems.
The
old League, known as the NPL also fell foul of their own rules by either
choosing to ignore them or not knowing they exist.
The
latest addition, the LMC have in time past not really adhered to some of their
rules, especially in their first year in office.
Though,
after closer checks and inquiries, it seemed they were trying to adapt to the
league, its politics and intricacies.
However,
most Nigerian football watchers have accepted the LMC to be an upgrade of the
old NPL and it is expected that the respect the rules and regulations guiding
the league.
Enter Warri Wolves
and national team call ups
On
Monday morning, I received a mail in my box from the media manager of Warri
Wolves, Etu Moses on their request to have their league games postponed and I also
took time to visit social media sites, Twitter and facebook to see the
reactions from Nigerians who follow the league, as well as respected sports/
football writers.
A
dare say, a lot of the reactions were based on personal feelings, sentiments
and not anything close to interpreting the rules and speaking based on what the
books say.
What do the rules
say?
According
to Article 15.14 of the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL Framework
and Rules, Where a club have five (5) players in the national camps, its matches
may be postponed at the request of the club in writing provided such
application is received not later than 72 hours before the scheduled matches.
I
think the rules are self-explanatory on the issue and there should be no
sentiments involved in how the decision is taken.
Have they written?
The
question is not one of issuing press statements as that is akin to “playing to
the gallery.”
Have
Warri Wolves written to the League Management Company, tabling their requests?
Because
there is rule book and I believe it says something about the club in questions writing
to the league asking for their game to be moved, so first things first- they
must write to the league and that letter must be sent in 72 hours to the game
in question.
Warri
Wolves return to the League on Sunday, June 14 and that letter must get to the
LMC by Wednesday, June 10.
Is it based on
sentiments
I
have followed the arguments on twitter and facebook and most of the reactions
are based on sentiments, not laid down procedure.
Some
people ask why a game should be postponed because 7 players are missing when
the club registered 30?
Others
feel it will affect the league if games of one club are postponed since the
league has a date already to be rounded up.
But
should these arguments ensure when there is a rule book?
Based
on these sentimental arguments, I want to ask if, say, Chelsea FC play an important
league match without Coutoius, Terry, Ivanovic, Hazard, Costa, Matic and Oscar?
Especially if the rules say they do not have to play if five of these are
absent?
What
about Barcelona without Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic and
Alves?
But
aside all these, there is a rule book that should be obeyed.
What should the
LMC do?
The
LMC can do nothing until they have received a letter from Warri Wolves asking
for their games to be postponed. If that letter is not sent, then the league
games will go on as scheduled.
But
as soon as the letter is received the first thing the LMC should check is if
the letter made it minimum of 72 hours before the game in question…
If
that checks off, the next will be to confirm that Warri Wolves have at least
five players in National team camps.
My
own findings indicate that Daniel Akpeyi, Egwuekwe Azubuike, Solomon Kwambe,
Gbolahan Salami, Stanley Dimgba are currently in Kaduna with the Super Eagles
while Oghenekaro Etebo and Omoforman Freedom are with the U23 team.
If
this is true, then the LMC has no choice but to postpone those games as is
stated in Article 15.14 of rule books.
Where a club have five (5) players in the national
camps, its matches may be postponed at the request of the club in writing
provided such application is received not later than 72 hours before the
scheduled matches.
It
will be good to obey rules and regulations in Nigeria, especially in football
and this will be a good test case.
If
Nigerian football stakeholders do not like this then due process is simply
amending these rules the next time a congress sits.
Ambiguity of the
laws and lacunas
The
Nigerian constitution is not clear and has lots of loopholes.
My
lawyer friends tell me every law has a loophole and the best lawyers exploit
it.
I
have gone through that law that talks about National team players and I believe
it is ambiguous in a way.
Here
is goes again…
Where a club have five (5) players in the national
camps, its matches may be postponed at the request of the club in writing
provided such application is received not later than 72 hours before the
scheduled matches.
Now
on closer examination, the law does not say, where a club has five players in
the national teams their games WILL BE postponed or their games MUST BE
postponed…
The
law actually says, their games MAY BE postponement which means, it’s not a
certainty that postponing the games will happen.
The
term, MAYBE means, By chance, possibly, perhaps or peradventure.
Something
tells me that those who wrote the rules knew what they were doing.
The
bottom line is that Warri Wolves will write to the LMC because they fulfil all
the conditions to have their games postponed, but the LMC will still have to
decide if they want the games moved.
My Verdict- It is injustice to
force a club to play crucial league games without seven of their best players.

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