FIFA, AFC lawyers investigate PFF row
by rick olivares
With the row regarding the Philippine Football Federation leadership reaching a fever pitch, Fabienne Moser-Frei, FIFA Head of Corporate Counsel, and My Dung Nguyen, AFC Legal Director, flew into Manila last December 29 to conduct an overnight fact finding mission on the problem that has led to a testy exchange of facsimile letters between FIFA President Joseph Blatter and AFC President Mohammad Bin-Hammam.
“We’re here hear all sides,” said Moser-Frei in her only statement to BUSINESS MIRROR. “Then we’ll make a report.”
According to PFF Secretary General Ramon F. Manuel, the two lawyers were only informed the day before about their quick mission on the day of their departure.
As soon as the legal counsels arrived, they went to the PFF House of Football in Barangay Oranbo, Pasig City to conduct interviews with available board members, to verify documents, and to watch the video of the 7th PFF Ordinary Congress last November 27, 2010 where Jose Mari Martinez was removed and replaced as president following allegations into the falsification of public documents and the misuse of funds coming from the FIFA Financial Assistance Plan.
PFF Chairman Emeritus Johnny Romualdez, who just arrived from Jakarta following a meeting of the Asean Football Federation before the final match of the 2010 Suzuki Cup between Indonesia and Malaysia that the latter won, said, “These proceedings are meant to comply with an agreement between Hammam and Blatter that were discussed in Abu Dhabi a few weeks after the ouster of Martinez.
Atty. Edwin Gastanes, Acting Legal Counsel for PFF Interim President Mariano V. Araneta and a member of the Advisory Council of the PFF said the football lawyers “were here to verify the accuracy of what happened.”
“They tried to talk to as many board members and participants of the congress in the short span of time they were given. They heard all sides including that of Martinez. They were quite tight-lipped about what they will do next but I believe that they will come up with their recommendations and findings before the AFC elections in Qatar this January.”
Attorneys Moser-Frei and Nguyen were surprised to find out that Martinez filed a temporary restraining order on Araneta and Manuel “to cease and desist from acting and representing the Philippine Football Federation particularly in attending the 24th AFC Congress 2011 in Doha, Qatar and to vacate the designated office.” The TRO was filed at the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City last December 28, 2010 by Atty. Ciriaco S. Calalang, Martinez’ Counsel.
The TRO is a violation of FIFA statutes on “Arbitration” where “disputes between FIFA, members, confederations, leagues, clubs, players, officials, and licensed match agents and players’ agents” must be taken up with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Article 62 specifically states, “Recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”
“Hopefully we will see an tidy end to this unfortunate business,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Monico Puentevella who also attended the proceedings.