Pretoria – The PSL needs to operate with more transparency in its disciplinary hearings as fans have a right to know, says top sports attorney Michael Murphy.
He was speaking in response to the case against Kaizer Chiefs defender Morgan Gould, who has been suspended for two matches and fined R50 000 (suspended for 12 months) after pleading guilty to assaulting Bidvest Wits striker Getaneh Kebede.
“Transparency is key and can remedy all the misconceptions members of the public have about disciplinary processes,” Murphy told the Pretoria News on Sunday.
“An argument can be made that in appropriate cases there perhaps needs to be channels in place where, like in a court of law, the media can apply to be allowed to witness the proceedings.”
Millions of supporters have invested time and money in the PSL and its clubs. Therefore certain cases of public interest should be made available to them, Murphy said.
Surely a mere press statement of no longer than 100 words cannot quench the thirst for knowledge and detail of the disciplinary process that led to Gould being handed such a ban.
Murphy acted for Mpumalanga Black Aces striker Mabhudi Khenyeza in the much-publicised case where he was accused of spitting on match official Zakhele Siwela during a match against Mamelodi Sundowns on April 2.
A sequence of events that followed showed that the PSL wasn’t in tune with its own rules as some within the organisation lambasted the decision by Mpumalanga Black Aces to field Khenyeza in the opening week of the PSL against Kaizer Chiefs.
PSL media liaison officer Luxolo September said they are not obliged to release details of disciplinary hearings to the public.
“These are private matters that are not released to the media. If you as an individual have a disciplinary hearing at your workplace does anyone else have the right to the details of your private case? In other sports like rugby, why don’t you ask those very same questions because they have cases all the time?” September told the Pretoria News.
Murphy appealed against the decision on behalf of his client but the PSL constitution states a player can continue playing football until “the internal remedies available to the party or parties so sentenced have been exhausted”.
In making the judgement against Khenyeza, the PSL failed to detail the deliberations and justify the reasons why such a severe (year-long) punishment was handed down to the player. It later came to light that a Fifa rule was applied which stipulates that, should a player spit at an official, a mandatory suspension of 12 months should be imposed on the guilty party.
In the league’s case against Gould; the organisation in question once again handed down its verdict, but failed to give a plausible explanation for the reasoning behind giving him a slap on the wrist for his misdemeanour.
Since few people were present in the disciplinary proceedings, Murphy speculated that the reason for the Gould case might have been based on:
*Gould, in his presentation to the committee, stating that it was a freak accident and that he had apologised almost immediately to the player.
*Gould’s guilty plea had to an extent alleviated the possibility of a harsher punishment.
*Gould would have also put his case forward that he was a first time offender and had shown remorse.
*The charge of assault is general and doesn’t have a mandatory punishment. Therefore the disciplinary hearing had to, by its own discretion, sanction a relative suspension –which came down to a two-match ban and R50 000.
Gould was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the DC sitting and Chiefs must show proof that the player went through internal disciplinary processes.