Doing it for the game, for the Sport

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Judge Kéba Mbaye, Founder of CAS, President 1984-2007

It has often been said that sport can be a unifying factor in national development and that is why the current case in which an aggrieved candidate to the LFA elections chose to resolve his disagreements in the court of law indicates that those responsible to have resolved the issue he raised did not do justice to the cause of sport.

And as it happened, the aggrieved party sought relief in the court of law which is the ultimate determiner of fair-play in the country; the justice system decided to uphold the law and now here we are with the presence of a delegation from FIFA to help us handle the matter.

So now that the FIFA honorable delegates are in the country, we are hoping that all those involved will allow them to find a solution, by first putting the interest of the game above their desire to ascend to the highest place of soccer administration in the country.

Liberia Football Association was formed in 1936 and as far as I can remember, the current intervention by FIFA delegates on the election demonstrates how the international football governing body takes the administration of football in the world.

But long before the current crisis, Liberian football officials were aware of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It may be recalled that when the outgoing president Musa Bility had some problems in his struggle to encourage changes in the Confederation of African Football (ICAF) and things did not go his way, he sought relief at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Though the outcome was not to his liking, he was somehow satisfied with the result and opened a new chapter in his career as an administrator.

Though the presence of the FIFA delegation demonstrates that FIFA does not joke in such an issue, and therefore we must make our decisions, whatever they are, for the game, and for soccer.

One lesson that should not be lost on us is that our sports officials should make use of CAS and under no condition should they overlook any situation that affects the development of the game, because of pressure from somewhere.

We need to point out that as far as FIFA is concerned the supreme organ that should handle all manner of cases involving sports is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). According to FIFA, the CAS will sit as a tribunal of the last instance if attempts to solve the dispute internally at FIFA or the confederations prove unsuccessful.

The CAS may also be called upon to resolve disputes concerning the status of players. In accordance with CAS jurisprudence, any disputes arising from the interpretation of the Laws of the Game, i.e. refereeing decisions during matches, will not be submitted to the CAS.

FIFA considers the agreement that gave such authority to CAS “a significant step towards resolving the regrettable proliferation of disputes in the world of football. The experience and expertise of the CAS will prove invaluable to FIFA.”

A FIFA statement at the time the authority was given to CAS said, “However, I would like to stress that many disputes are a result of people not respecting FIFA regulations. We must fight this tendency and in order to win this battle, we will need the support of the entire football family.”

A statement from the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), also commended FIFA’s decision. “I am overjoyed that all of the international Olympic federations have now accepted the jurisdiction of the CAS. FIFA has followed in the footsteps of the IAAF, which recognized the CAS. These steps are indicative of the greater unity and harmony in the Olympic Movement, which is wonderful news.”

Founded in 1984, the CAS is an arbitration institution that specializes in resolving legal disputes in the world of sport and is financed by the entire Olympic Movement – the International Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Federations and the Association of National Olympic Committees. The headquarters of the CAS can be found in Lausanne, Switzerland, but there are also two decentralized offices in New York and in Sydney.

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