The dispute between Heartland FC of Owerri and Police Machines also of Owerri has taken a new twist as the Police Team have filed an appeal at the NFF against the decision of the Imo STate FA Appeal Commiitee in search of justice.
Both sides clashed on April 19th and the Police team led by one goal to nil with six minutes to go when Heartland were awarded a highly contentious penalty. After contesting the decision briefly the Police team returned to the field of play but Heartland refused to take the penalty and play was disrupted for almost 20 minutes before the centre referee blew off the match.
Heartland petitioned the Imo FA O & D claiming that The Police team were the ones that abandoned the game and praying the match be awarded to them under Article 14 of the Guidelines to the 2012 Imo FA Federation Cup which states that the if anyone disrupts play for more than 10 minutes the other side be awarded the match. However, the referee in his match report stated that Police Machines protest only lasted about seven minutes.
The O & D then fined Police Machines N50,000 for encroachment by their technical crew, Heartland N250, 000 for refusing to take the penalty and Tonex Chukwu, Heartland PRO was fined N50,000 for leading his team’s fans into the pitch to disrupt play and a replay was ordered.
Both sides appealed to the Imo FA Appeal Committee who sustained the decisions, and only reduced the fines against Heartland. Apparently dissatisfied with the decision the Police Machines have now taken the appeal to the NFF Appeals Committee, asking among many questions why Article 14 was not applied strictly, rather a replay was ordered.
Barrister Johnny Precious Ogbah of Activity Chambers representing Police Machines in his appeal further queried why a match with 4 minutes left should be ordered to be replayed when it was the losing side that willfully refused to continue play, and that being awarded another 90 minutes would amount to rewarding them for refusing to continue play when the right decision would have been awarding the match to the other side in line with Article 14 of the guidelines to Imo Federation Cup 22012 and Article 3.11(A) of the Nigerian Federation Cup 2012 Rules.
The NFF is yet to set a date to hear the appeal.