Fiji Footballers’ ‘Harsh’ Bans Sparks Controversy

Punishment in the form of big fines and suspension is seen as too harsh
05 Jul 2019 10:47
Fiji Footballers’ ‘Harsh’ Bans Sparks Controversy
L-R: Ilimotama Jese, Kolinio Sivoki and Narendra Rao.

The controversy surrounding the suspension of three of our national football players could escalate and is far from being resolved.

It’s understood that one of the players has appealed against his suspension, another is looking at his options while the third player has gone quiet.

The players are:

  • Lautoka defender Kolinio Sivoki: Suspended for five years from all levels of football and fined $20,000. He will only be able to appeal after serving three years of his suspension;
  • Ba defender Ilimotama Jese: Suspended for three years from all levels of football and fined $10,000. He can only appeal after serving two years of his suspension; and
  • Ba midfielder Narendra Rao: Suspended from all levels of football for the rest of the season and fined $3000.

The players were penalised for not attending the national team training to prepare for the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.

Football fans took to social media to criticise the suspension of the players. A close relative of one of the suspended players posted on Facebook, that the player was not in camp due to the death of a close family member and as part of their tradition, he had to observe the 30-day prayer ritual that came after that.

When contacted the Ba Football Association stated that they would comment on the issue later.

Last night, Fiji Football Association chief executive officer Mohammed Yusuf said during the tribunal they had explained all the facts to the players who were also accompanied by their legal representatives.

The players and their legal representatives understood and agreed to what was read out to them.

“The players have been given 14 days to appeal their suspension, Mr Yusuf said.

Responding on the Facebook post, Mr Yusuf says, the player concerned had played for his district during the time his close relative had passed away.

“We were also informed about the prayer rituals that the player had to attend. The team management had agreed and it was explained to him that he could attend training during the day and in the evening he can attend the prayer session. However, he went and did not attend camp.”

Mr Yusuf said they also had similar cases with veteran goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau and Kishan Sami who were excused from training during the day as they had to go to work but they were still camping with the team.

Mr Yusuf highlighted that this has affected their Pacific Games campaign as the men’s football team are going to Samoa with 21 players instead of 23.

“We’ve paid for their airfares and other logistics but now we are the only team with 21 players while others are coming in with 23,” he said.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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