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Namibian Football Shrouded By Drams

It appear the sun may already be setting on the Namibia Premier League's envisaged new dawn, given that the Sports Commission is not in a position to approve its membership request.

On Thursday, the NPL announced it had established "a professional league independent from any Namibia Football Association structures" and registered with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) as an non-profit association.

A similar football body already exists on BIPA's register since 2011, raising questions about the registration of the new entity. To play organised football in the country, the 'new' NPL, which was established in response to losing its NFA membership last month, requires affiliation to the national football mother body or take its place altogether.

Also, the NPL can only become an affiliate to international bodies through the NFA and the Namibia Sports Commission. None of those avenues are open to the NPL. In announcing the unprecedented development, the NPL did not indicate whether it had consulted with the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa), Confederation of African Football (CAF) or Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) regarding the formation of a rival or new national association.

A follow-up query to the NPL yesterday went unanswered. Organised football anywhere in the world can only be commissioned by Fifa who have shored up the NFA's defence against the NPL at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The NPL's current matter at CAS is to challenge their suspension and subsequent omission from February's NFA elective congress. 

Yesterday, the NPL again said it "accepted the NFA Congress's unilateral decision to terminate its membership on 27 July 2020". However, the CAS application has not been withdrawn, while further civil action against the NFA in the High Court is being prepared. In May, CAS dismissed a second application, filed by NPL chairperson Patrick Kauta and former head of the Northern East First Division Mpasi Haingura, challenging the legitimacy of February's NFA congress and Ranga Haikali's ascension to the NFA presidency.
When acknowledging receipt of the NPL's application, the Namibia Sports Commission said it cannot grant the NPL the same status as the NFA. "There can only be one national mother body for any specific code in the country. We know that the custodian of football in the country is NFA," NSC chief administrator Freddy Mwiya told The Namibian Sport.

Nonetheless, his office has granted the NPL an audience and will act as a mediator between the warring football bodies. "We have received the NPL's file. We are having separate consultative meetings with both parties to help find lasting solutions to the issue. Both indicated a willingness to have football start as soon as possible," Mwiya said.

The novel NPL's legal structure consists of two tiers comprising a maximum of 12 unspecified teams each, respectively known as premier division and national first division managed through a congress of 25 members - one from each team. The 25th member is a players' representative. Until yesterday's pronouncement, the NPL was comprised of 16 top flight clubs, with the three first division streams made up of 12 clubs each. It is not known whether the move was approved by the NPL board of governors, the troubled league's second highest decision making body, given the deep divisions in the body.

It is also unclear which clubs are under the new structure, given that half the top-flight teams had asked the NFA to start a new premier division. Blue Waters, Julinho Sporting, Mighty Gunners, Orlando Pirates, Tigers, Civics, Citizens and Young African publicly declared their support for a the establishment of a new league. The NFA has extended an offer to house all 16 teams that are members of the NPL in a new top-flight division.

Earlier this week, talk radio station Eagle FM Namibia reported that Kauta reiterated they would approach the High Court of Namibia to prohibit the NFA from luring its members to form a new league. National champions Black Africa, Okahandja United and African Stars, who are chaired by Kauta, strongly oppose the NPL's expulsion and NFA's plans for a substitute top tier division.
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