The tricky rules of football
The Manning Cup semi-finalists have now been decided and Hydel will not be among the teams involved. They were deemed to have used an ineligible player in a Manning Cup game against Denham Town after the player received a red card in a Flow Super Cup game against Clarendon College. The issue has been contentious, with many local observers feeling that Hydel was given a raw deal. I checked the rule books of both the Flow Super Cup and the other ISSA-run schoolboy football competitions and I'm beginning to feel that Hydel might just have been dealt with harshly. The Flow Super Cup rule book says nothing about whether cards received in other competitions would carry over into the Flow competitions, or vice versa. Their rule book touches on a few cursory topics and then states: "All other rules of the Manning and Dacosta competitions will apply."
An interesting matter
When we turn to ISSA's football rules and guidelines revised 2015 edition, the matter becomes interesting. The sixth article states: "If a player receives a red card, he automatically misses the next match in the competition or extension of the said competition. For the purpose of the rule Manning Cup and Walker Cup on one hand, and Dacosta and Ben Francis on the other hand, are regarded as one competition. The Oliver Shield is regarded as a separate competition." No mention at all is made of the Flow Super Cup.
Hydel's argument is that since the ISSA rule book didn't specifically mention the Flow cup as an exception, then they were within their rights to use the player in the Manning Cup game. ISSA's argument is that the Flow cup is really an 'extension' of the Manning Cup or Dacosta competitions. Where do you see this argument? Is the Flow cup a separate competition which ISSA should have taken the time to write specifically about? Or is it an extension of the Manning and Dacosta Cups? It's not an easy question to answer.
The Flow Super Cup pits the top eight Manning Cup teams against the top eight Dacosta Cup teams. So it's from these two competitions that the Flow Super Cup teams are chosen. Does that make the Flow cup an extension of the Manning and Dacosta Cup, or should it be treated as a separate competition? There are too many areas of grey here, with good arguments on both sides. Because there is not certainty here that I believe ISSA should not have come down so hard on Hydel. One man told me that ISSA wouldn't have done this if one of the urban powerhouses was involved. I am not convinced about that, but it would have been interesting to see what would have been the public reaction if this had happened to a Jamaica College or a St George's College.
The unofficial tagline for the Flow Super Cup is that it's "Champions League of schoolboy football." The interesting thing is that a player who picks up a red card in the Champions League is still able to play the next league game in his country, and vice versa. Should ISSA have used this as their guideline? I believe under the circumstances, they should, until the rules are written with more clarity and less ambiguity.
Added to all that is ISSA's decision to award three points and a three goal margin to Denham Town following the game with Hydel. Hydel won the game 3-0 and were clearly the superior team. Camperdown ended up beating Denham Town 4-1 in their last fixture, which means that Denham Town, clearly not the strongest team in the group, have advanced to the semi-finals after 'losing' two of three games. I'm not blaming Denham Town at all for complaining. They saw a technicality that they could exploit and they went for it. Nothing wrong with that, but ISSSA should have seen that the awarding of three points and a 3-0 scoreline to one team does put the other teams at a disadvantage. In the future, this must be addressed. How it is to be dealt with, I don't know, but it is clearly unfair to the other teams in a tight four-team group, where only three game are to be played, for one team to get three points and three goals because of an infraction on the part of a team they played.
What this has done is caused many to see the semi-final line-up as being a little farcical with Denham Town not being there by right. Football is a funny business and Denham Town may surprise, but for the credibility of the competition, ISSA should ensure that this scenario is not repeated next year.
- Orville Higgins is a radio talkshow host. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.