Black Leopards owner David Thidiela will argue all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport — an international body that settles disputes related to sport — to have his team’s June 7 loss to Baroka nullified.
The Thohoyandou outfit lodged an official complaint with the South African Football Association that their rivals gained an unfair advantage in the promotional playoff game by scoring their opening goal after Leopards goalkeeper Rotshidzwa Muleka was knocked unconscious.
Thidiela says through his attorney, Tinyiko Mnisi, that referee Khulisani Qongqo erred by failing to stop the match after Muleka collided with an attacking player and was concussed.
“It is crystal clear that Baroka benefited from the referee’s error and the principles of fair play went flying out of the window,” charges Mnisi.
But it is not clear whether the Premier Soccer League, whose constitution states that the referee’s decision is final, will accede to Leopards’ demands.
“Qongqo is one of the fittest referees on the South African panel and among the best that we have,” said Sylvester Ndaba, a referees’ committee development officer and analyst on SABC programme Soccer Zone.
“But on that fateful occasion, he [Qongqo] seems to have been badly positioned and was more than 35m away from the actual action and, while handing the advantage to the attacking team, completely missed the infringement that resulted in the contentious goal.”
Black Leopards believe the match should be replayed and the referee suspended. Baroka, who need just one point in their final match against Leopards on Saturday to retain their premiership status, have maintained a polite silence on the issue.