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NPL Asks CAS For More Time

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is reviewing a request by the Namibian Premier League for a further extension of its deadline to file the appeal brief in its matter against the Namibia Football Association. It is the second time that the NPL has requested for an extension, which the NFA objects to, citing failure to perform the task due to national Covid-19 restrictions and technological shortcomings. 

The NPL was initially granted relief in August to file its brief, together with its witness statements on or before 18 September. However, Namibia extended stage 3 of its state of emergency by five days from 13 to 17 September. Under the regulations, travel to and from Windhoek, where NPL operates from, is restricted without a valid permit. “ … counsel has to date been unable to consult with its witnesses who reside outside the restricted area,” the NPL's legal representatives, Dr Weder, Kauta & Hoveka Inc, wrote on Tuesday. 

“The appellant considered the alternative option of consulting the witnesses via virtual platforms, but the witnesses have no or limited access to the internet,” they contested. “For the above reasons, the appellant requests for a further extension to file its brief after 17 September 2020 and propose to file its brief and witness statements on 4 October 2020, once the lockdown and travel restrictions currently prevailing have been uplifted. The suggested period would enable the witnesses to travel to the City of Windhoek local authority area,” NPL's lawyers said. Invited to comment on the request, the NFA invalidated the NPL's reasons. 

“With all due respect to the appellant and its counsels, the appellant had half a year to prepare its appeal brief, which is obviously more than enough to collect all the necessary information, conduct the most comprehensive analysis and prepare a position,” said NFA counsel Maria Tokmakova. “Moreover, given the development of modern technologies (email, telephone, video communication, such as Skype or Zoom), taking into account that even CAS hearings are currently conducted by video conference, we believe that the appellant, if they had made sufficient efforts, could have consulted with its 'witnesses who reside outside the restricted area',” Tokmakova continued. 

“The behaviour of the appellant now seems to be a mere tactic intended to delay the process which was initiated by the appellant itself. “Taking into account the above, the respondent kindly asks the sole arbitrator to reject the appellant's request for further extension of the time limit to file the appeal brief,” she said. NPL petitioned CAS in March following its suspension and subsequent exclusion from February's NFA congress for bringing football into disrepute. 

That suspension was converted to an expulsion at NFA's extra-ordinary meeting in July, prompting the NPL to apply for recognition with the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), as a second national body or professional league with no ties to NFA.

After the NSC board failed to pronounce itself on the NPL's request, sport minister Agnes Tjongarero ordered the formation of an independent remedial committee to “find a lasting solution” to the dispute. The committee, which has no powers to force the NFA to change its position, has until early October to come up with recommendations for the minister.
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