A dubious decision to overturn the result of a U15 football match after a 13-year-old boy forgot his passport has raised some questions about the rules that govern the league.
Swieqi United U15’s squad lost their matchup against Mosta FC a fortnight ago, despite winning 2-1 on the field.
The decision to overturn the result was taken following a protest by Mosta after a 13-year-old Swieqi player forgot to bring ID (i.e. his passport) to the game making him ineligible to play.
“It was the first time he was called up to a match, he was excited and forgot his passport at home,” said Academy Manager Andrew Azzopardi.
Having turned up to the game without any ID, the 13-year-old had no choice but to sit on the bench.
“The alternative was to leave him on the street. His parents weren’t there and we couldn’t leave him alone because of COVID-19 regulations,” he continued.
“We informed our opponents that one player was without his passport and instead of leaving him on the street we left him on the bench and he remained there for the entire match.”
Following the 2-1 defeat, Mosta took the decision to challenge the match on the premise that the 13-year-old didn’t present any ID and that three other players had expired passports – even though they still act as forms of ID.
“A fundamental principle of sport is that what happens on the pitch isn’t overturned by the office unless it’s very serious,” he continued.
“We acknowledge that we didn’t go by the rules 100% but the boy learned the lesson and didn’t play.”
As per Youth Football Association rules, a person on the bench (who doesn’t play) is still considered an eligible player and therefore the decision was made to overturn the result and award Mosta a 2-0 win.
“I was flabbergasted by the decision. The punishment did not fit the crime,” he said.
In addition to hinging the outcome of a game on a 13-year-old who forgot his passport, this case brings to light the archaic laws that govern youth football and the disparities that exist across leagues.
“According to the Malta Football Association statute, not presenting an ID amounts to a fine but in the Youth FA, it’s tantamount to cheating,” said Swieqi United Club President Justin Fenech.
“We would’ve taken a fine rather than leaving a 13-year-old boy on the street,” he said.
While the Youth FA governs U15 and U17 boy leagues, the MFA governs everything else including U15 and U17 girl leagues, effectively creating some unintentional discrimination across the board.
“The truth is that every association can choose its own rules but the discriminatory issue is that the boys fall under the Youth FA and the girls under the MFA,” he said.
“Another element of this is that everything is computerised and the referees can print the lineups before the match and have a list of all the players along with their MFA ID number, their date of birth and a photo of them. They are given all the details and can identify the player easily,” he ended.
Though the decision to award Mosta the win has been set in stone, Swieqi is determined to see the rule changed at the next MFA Annual General Meeting.
Lovin Malta has reached out to Mosta FC but hasn’t been able to get in touch with the team by the time of publication.
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