With Protest on Disallowed Penalty

In sporting news, the planned game one of the Premier League of Belize Championship Finals for this weekend has been postponed. General Secretary to the Premier League of Belize, Wilhelm Miguel, this afternoon confirmed to News Five that the game scheduled between Verdes Football Club and Belmopan Bandits Football Club is on hold, pending the result of an appeal of a protest by Verdes' semi-final opponents, Belize Defence Force Football Club, to the Football Federation of Belize. A referee's decision on a penalty kick in this past Sunday's match-up has led to controversy. But for now, the Premier League's Disciplinary Committee has ruled the decision to be final. While the F.F.B. awaits the formal appeal to its Appeals Committee, it has withdrawn the offending referee and his assistant from participating in any more games. News Five's Aaron Humes reports.

Aaron Humes, Reporting

The Belize Defence Force Football Club admits that one of their players was at fault for encroaching during a penalty kick taken by the Premier League's co-leading goal scorer Trimayne Harris during Sunday's semi-final second leg against Verdes F.C. But it insists referee Christopher Reid had no right to take away the resulting penalty, according to the laws of the game.

Marvin Card, Belize Defence Force F.C. Fan

"There was a penalty in the thirty-sixth or thirty-seventh minute, so to speak. [Referee] Christopher Reid ruled penalty - they took down [Jermaine] Lambey in the penalty box, the goalkeeper. And Trimayne Harris stepped up, took the penalty, scored the penalty. I don't know what gone on - the linesman found some infringement, he hailed the referee. The referee stepped to him; they had their discussion; he came back and waved off the goal that was scored, the penalty kick that was scored by Trimayne Harris. B.D.F. in return launched a protest which was turned down, denied, last night by the Protest Board Committee. So we are here today speaking out on it."

The military men were leading two goals to nil from the first leg, and had the penalty stood, Verdes' eventual three to nil win might have gone for naught due to the away goals rule. Instead, B.D.F. is on the outside looking in because, even though the Premier League acknowledged referee error, it ruled the decision final. Card, a former executive member of the club, says Reid refused all their overtures to discuss the situation.

Marvin Card

"The penalty, in the by-laws, should be retaken if an infringement happened with the attacking team. The infringement happened with number seven, Myvette, so the [penalty] should have been re-taken, not disallowed altogether. Re-taken. And also there was an infrinment on Verdes, but we won't go into that because that is not the meat of this. They're saying the infringement happened on the attacking team; and if the rules are saying that [it's] the attacking team the infringement happened on, then the [penalty] should be re-taken."

Aaron Humes

"Did you approach Mr. Reid at that point in the game, or later on, to question the decision?"

Marvin Card

"We didn't stop the game momentarily; we didn't stop the game. But [at] half-time we tried to reach him at the changing room for the referees and they denied access to a confrontation. They denied it. They didn't want to speak to us. So we said at the end of the game, we are going to write a protest and that's what we did. We wrote a protest."

While officially the Federation has not received the appeal as confirmed by general secretary Earl Jones this afternoon, it has announced the suspensions of Referee Reid and Assistant Referee Wendelle Esquiliano. A press release states that while it is normal to make errors, theirs had significant ramifications. Card told us that B.D.F. is additionally wary of the outcome of its appeal because of the relationship of F.F.B. President Sergio Chuc to the Green Machine.

Marvin Card

"The team that is going to the championship, that they want to carry to the championship, Verdes - the president of the Football Federation, Sergio Chuc, that's his team. So it might be a conflict of interest."

Aaron Humes

"But he would have to recuse himself in any case."

Marvin Card

"They will try to bounce us around, so maybe we might have to try [to] reach out to FIFA, UNCAF and CONCACAF. It doesn't matter if Belize gets denied from going to the Champions League. Because this championship that will be taking place this weekend and next weekend, that will be null and void, because in reality Verdes did not make it as a champion. If our penalty [had] scored, on aggregate, we will be up four-three."

Aaron Humes

"Because away goals count double, right?"

Marvin Card

"The least they could have done is replay, go back and play over the game. Replay the game; that would give both teams an equal opportunity to go to the finals."

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

It has been noted that F.F.B. President Chuc plays no part in the Appeal Committee. The result of the hearing may take up to a week to settle.

Channel 5