The High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday made a landmark ruling when it dismissed football authorities’ claims that football disputes cannot be taken to conventional courts.
The court ruled in favour of Dedza Young Soccer Saints in a case in which the former Super League side obtained an injunction stopping Super League of Malawi (Sulom) from holding play-offs to determine the 16th team to play in the league.
The club’s argument is that Sulom should not have held the play-offs, but rather pick the team that finished on 13th position in 2015 as the 16th team since Airborne Rangers finished on 14th position while Wizards were on 15th.
Presiding judge Charles Mkandawire, in his ruling, noted that Sulom erred in not giving Dedza Young Soccer Saints a chance to be heard.
“My finding is that had the respondent properly handled the appeal lodged by the applicant on February 24 2016, which was two weeks before the play-offs, this matter would not have reached this monumental point.
“There was casual approach to the whole issue and lack of administration professionalism,” the ruling reads.
The judge described Sulom’s way of handling the matter as “full of conflicting messages” and “half truths.”
Reads the ruling in part: “I find that the best solution in this matter is to allow for the extension of the injunction that I had granted on March 16 2016. I order that the respondent should hear the appeal lodged by the applicant using competent authority as per the Sulom statute.”
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said they would respect the court’s ruling.
“In this case, Dedza Young Soccer Saints will be allowed to appeal the case to Sulom disciplinary committee,” Banda said in an interview yesterday
Dedza Young Soccer Saints general secretary Harold Mmola said in an interview that the club has been vindicated that it was unfairly treated by Sulom.
“It’s sad that the issue had to go this far. What we have been arguing all along is that we want justice to prevail,” he said. n