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UFL boots Global out of Cup as punishment for fielding ineligible player

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2014 United Football League (UFL) champions Global FC have been banned from participating in the 2015 UFL Cup. This comes after league officials ruled that the club is liable in falsifying documents that were intended to certify the Filipino citizenship of Satoshi Otomo and Hikaru Minegishi.

The problem is thought to have surfaced after league officials determined both players as Filipino citizens, due to the applicable fact that their mothers were Filipino by blood. One of them even represented the country in an unofficial friendly match in Thailand, which could have been deemed as enough proof of citizenship by league officials. Halfway through the season, four clubs questioned the authenticity of the involved players’ citizenship. As a result, UFL required Global to submit a document which serves as proof of citizenship of the involved players.

When Global issued the documents, it was ruled that Mr. Otomo’s credentials were forged. Upon learning that fact and witnessing the two players play with five foreign players on the pitch–which effectively makes them ineligible–the teams decided to take the issue seriously by filing a petition to forfeit those matches when such instances occurred.

The two players are claimed to be of Filipino descent, having been born to mothers who grew up in the country. However, they are currently listed as Japanese nationals in accordance to the fact that they were both born in Japan. Japanese law dictates that children born in their territory qualify for Japanese citizenship. It was also alleged that both mothers underwent naturalization prior to their birth, meaning that they became Japanese citizens when they have gave birth to the two controversial players. This matter of ‘fact’, nonetheless, does not sternly undermine the eligibility of both players because neither verified the issue.

 

UFL Speaks out

 

In a scrum with UFL General Manager Rely San Agustin and UFL Technical Director Ritchie Gannaban held earlier today at the UFL head office, explained that this was a very sensitive issue for the league and they simply followed protocols with regards to the matter. “In the history of the UFL, this is the first time we’ve experienced something like this. We just wanted to make sure, if it is the right decision or the wrong decision, what’s more important is we were able to follow the right process. We are bound by rules and regulations, not just from with the UFL but we also refer to the FIFA disciplinary code on things like this, as well as the PFF.”

The issue was under a microscope with different media outlets and fans clamoring for an immediate answer from the UFL. With regards to the criticism of hiding and keeping the results to themselves Technical Director Ritchie Gannaban quickly explained the league’s process and added that they remained transparent to the media and the fans. “So as it is, the one that has the last say here was really the appeals committee. We wanted to make sure that they reviewed the decision of the disciplinary commission and made sure they were able to decide on it. They didn’t waste any time, I think from the decision of the disciplinary commission to the appeals committee took about a week,” the GM added.

After sharing their process Sir Rely disclosed the decision of the appeals committee which are as follows:

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UFL boots Global out of Cup as punishment for fielding ineligible player News

1. That Global FC be disqualified from the 2015 UFL Cup after failing to prove that former player Satoshi Otomo had Filipino lineage while being fielded as a local player during the league competition.

2. The Appeals Commitee upheld the decision of the Disciplinary Committee that Otomo, a Japanese Player, was not eligible to play as a Filipino in the UFL.

3. That Global FC also be asked to pay a Php. 250,000 fine for its offense, while the player Otomo, has been meted with a six-match suspension from UFL competitions.

4. That Hikaru Minegishi is eligible to play as a Filipino.

5. That the complaint lodged by the teams did not follow the proper procedure under UFL rules of reversing the outcome of games, thus Global FC will not forfeit the three games wherein Otomo was fielded.

The scrum ended with both Mr.San Agustin and Mr. Gannaban hoping to move forward and hopefully adapt for the future. “It was a very difficult task for us to be able to resolve this issue, we never wanted this to happen. I guess this is a step forward to be able to professionalize the league even more. There are future plans for football here in the Philippines, and we want to be able to make sure that, if ever things go up another level, we are also ready for that,” the GM shared. They also believe that the league will learn from this mistake/incident and improve.

 

Global FC’s reaction

 

Meanwhile, Global FC Chief Operating Officer Cian Palami was disappointed by the said UFL ruling. “Of course ikinalulungkot namin ‘yung naging desisyon ng UFL, kasi ‘yung talunan dito hindi lang kami, pati ‘yung fans,” he shared. The COO also mentioned that they plan to make a statement in the coming days in a proper venue and date. Despite the ruling, Mr. Palami is still prideful about representing the UFL as the lone non-Singaporean club left in the Singaporean Cup. “Confident kami in the end of all this, Global will become stronger and mas matibay ‘yung samahan ng mga fans ng UFL at ng Philippine Football in general,” he ended.

Despite Global’s disqualification from the cup, their league record still stands and is still second place, unless the PFF says otherwise.

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