Colombo court red cards football’s secretive guns | Sunday Observer

Colombo court red cards football’s secretive guns

15 May, 2022
Football secretary Upali Hewage (left) and president Jaswar Umar congratulate each other after their election last year
Football secretary Upali Hewage (left) and president Jaswar Umar congratulate each other after their election last year

The District Court of Colombo has issued an interim enjoining order stopping Football Sri Lanka (FSL) from holding an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on May 17 to amend the FSL Constitution.

The District Judge gave the order on Friday on a plaint filed by the Government Services Football Association (GSFA) and the Gampola Football League (GFL) against FSL president Jaswar Umar and his secretary Upali Hewage.

The plaintiffs had been sidelined in the decision-making process by the national governing body for football since October and had not been invited for Council meetings. They had been virtually suspended by the FSL sans any official inquiry.

“I appealed to the (FSL) president (Umar) to resolve these matters and to stop interfering in matters of the independent Leagues. His failure and delay in resolving these matters have led these Leagues to take legal recourse,” said Dr Manil Fernando, president of the Kalutara District Football League who also raised objections regarding inadequate notice provided by FSL to study the draft of the amendments to the Constitution.

Dr Fernando has been a vocal critic of the manner in which football administration is conducted by FSL president Umar who won a closely contested election against him last year.

The latest gimmick of rushing through FSL Constitutional amendments to fall in line with FIFA statutes had also come in for questioning.

The FSL will also come under the scanner of the Sports Ministry’s Department of Sports Development (DSD) if election of office-bearers is not held before May 31 as stipulated in the Sports Act.

Efforts to prolong his stay in office with the consent of 53 Leagues at an unprecedented Council meeting held in Jaffna in February did not bear fruit with DSD Director General Amal Edirisuriya ruling that the previous election was only for a period of one year.

Umar was reportedly playing for time till the Constitutional amendments were done but with the interim injunction preventing the EGM being held in Polonnaruwa, he had apparently run out of options.

Dr Fernando proposed a raft of amendments/corrections to the draft FSL constitution May 2022 edition which were discussed at the council meeting on May 7 but is still awaiting a response from FSL.

“I have done my best to correct the statutes to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders specially the leagues. Therefore adequate time should be provided as given in the current Constitution of the FFSL,” he said.

Among the amendments were proper definition of the Ministry of Sports/ Sports Development Department and clarification whether FFSL (Football Federation of Sri Lanka) is a private organisation or an NGO (non-governmental organisation).

A probationary period for all new members before being granted voting rights and why Coaches’ and Referees’ associations should not be given voting rights because they should be independent and uninfluenced is another amendment.

He also questioned why the prior consent of the FFSL is needed to participate in friendly matches.

Dr Fernando also called for each member to have one vote and a maximum of three delegates to align with FIFA, AFC and other member associations and more significantly to reduce corruption and maintain the integrity of the leagues.