Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A PFF insider's response to the Matthew Hartmann suspension

Here is a response by someone with knowledge about the PFF’s decision on the Matthew Hartmann case. I received this the other day and am posting the response to what I wrote earlier.

“The decision was solely that of the Disciplinary Committee. This is really uncharted territory for us. The Disciplinary Committee is an independent committee responsible only to the PFF BOG. This insulates it from influence in decisions similar to this as it should be. While we would like to have seen a definitive suspension period, well that's not how the decision was handed down. As for the punishment fitting the "crime", Matt should seriously consider appealing the decision to the Appeals Committee where he will have the opportunity to have the decision either overturned or otherwise made more definitive/commuted (?) based on his ability to find defects not just with the decision but the basis for the decision.

The decision to hold in abeyance the filing of a case against Mr. Martinez was approved by the PFF BOG for humanitarian reasons given the state of his health. A case is currently pending in court against Mr. Tsai. Bear in mind that FIFA held back the release of the Financial Assistance Program (FAP) funds last year pending legal action in the alleged misuse of funds by the previous PFF administration. The FAP funds were eventually released based on substantial compliance with the required legal action. FIFA had originally asked for a case to be filed against Mr. Martinez but eventually acquiesced to the decision of the PFF BOG to delay the filing of a case against him.  

As a "tribunal", the PFF Disciplinary Committee sets its own rules in adjudicating cases. In this instance, a complaint against Matt was filed with the PFF. The complaint was forwarded to the committee that immediately asked Matt to respond within a specified period of time. He and his lawyer/s responded with a comprehensive reply which went beyond the allegations in the complaint. His response was weighed against the complaint and the decision was handed down. It would be difficult to argue the lack of due process as it has been customary and courts have upheld that as long as sports bodies follow their own rules, there is little basis for judicial review of process.

The timing of the decision being released was impervious of any considerations other than it being rendered within the soonest possible time. I would like to think that as the governing body of the game in the country, the PFF's decisions should be independent of any consideration regarding the circumstances of those that it governs. There may be exceptions but I don't see this as being a case where an exception is called for.

In a sense, the PFF had to constitute the Appeals Committee to provide an avenue for Matt to challenge the penalty meted by the Disciplinary Committee. The Appeals Committee can only be constituted by the PFF Board of Governors. The first BOG meeting was January this year. So it would have been improper and unfair to release the decision in December even though it had been promulgated at that time as Matt would have had no body to appeal to.

I agree with you that the case you mentioned above (the French National Team’s mutiny in South Africa and/or Roy Keane’s departure from the Irish National Team during WC2002) could be cited as a precedent. That is obviously something that Matt can argue upon appeal but that is a tricky proposition. I have not seen the full decision itself. If we hypothetically assume that there are defects in the basis for the decision, Matt could argue to overturn the decision citing a lack of or insufficiency of basis. Secondarily, they could argue that given the facts of the case the penalty imposed is excessive or unwarranted and ask for a commutation of such. All these can be brought up during the appeal process.”


I thank the response to my thoughts about the suspension. Watch out for more on this.


  1. I have never heard of a country's FA banning the player from playing for a local league. Does the PFF have any jurisdiction over the UFL? They can suspend him for the National Team but i doubt if they can do that with the UFL. But who cares! he walked away from the team so suspend him for that reason. suspend the coach too, i have never seen him on a UFL games to scout players.

  2. "As a "tribunal", the PFF Disciplinary Committee sets its own rules in adjudicating cases."

    The PFF Disciplinary Committee function should be governed by the PFF Disciplinary Code which shall comply with FIFA Disciplinary Code as mandated by the FIFA Statutes and the PFF Bylaws. The code describes infringements of the rules as defined by FIFA & PFF regulations, determines the sanctions incurred, and regulates the organization and function of the bodies responsible for taking decisions and the procedures to be followed before these bodies.

    Therefore, it is not accurate that the PFF Disciplinary Committee sets its own rules. The crafting of the PFF Disciplinary Code is the responsibility of the Board of Governors and subject to the approval of Congress. The check and balance system applied here prevents possible conflict of interest and possible abuse of discretionary powers.

    FIFA obliges all member associations to adapt their own provisions but must comply with the FIFA DC for the purposes of harmonizing disciplinary measures. More, FIFA likewise has mandated all member associations to incorporate several mandatory provisions of the FIFA DC. Any member association that infringes on this article shall be fined and in the event of more serious infringements additional sanction may be pronounced in accordance with the FIFA DC.

    The issues behind the decision of the PFF Disciplinary Committee are brought about by the ff:

    1. The absence of a PFF Disciplinary Code.
    2. The decision was not based on any provision that determines the infringement and the sanction incurred.
    3. The indefinite suspension does not comply with the FIFA Statutes as it should as mandated by both the PFF and FIFA Statutes. Indefinite suspensions are only imposed until certain conditions are met. There were no conditions set.
    4. The respondent was given an opportunity to appeal. Based on the FIFA Statutes an appeal may be lodged if the appellant objects to inaccurate representation of the facts and/or WRONG APPLICATION OF THE LAW.

    On appealing on the wrong application of the law ---how is that possible when the PFF has no Disciplinary Code? What application of the Law will he object to in the absence of a DC.

    Personally I do agree that Hartmann deserves to be sanctioned and must be held responsible for his action but the appropriate sanction based on the FIFA DC or PFF DC must be applied------the principle of Fair Play must be applied. The PFF Bylaws mandates that the PFF Disciplinary Committee must be governed by the PFF Disciplinary Code -------therefore the PFF Disciplinary Committee is not empowered by the PFF bylaws to set it own rules.

    On the comment if the PFF has jurisdiction over the UFL ----- DEFINITELY as the PFF bylaws dictates that the PFF shall act and function as the sole controlling body of every form of football in the Philippines.

  3. I agree that Mr MATTHEW HARTMANN SHOULD BE SANCTIONED. I have waited for the PFF's decision since NOvember last year, and I am glad when this news came out. Finally. The PFF should teach this guy a lesson. Being a Fil-Brit (or a Fil-foreigner) doesn't make him indispensible, nor exempted from the LAW. Now, I wait for the news that this guy be banned forever. Of course, Meralco Sparks would appeal the case...the club could not afford paying such a handsome price for a useless (suspended)player.

    PS: I would feel the same way had any of the YH brothers did the "walk-out". But then again,the YH bros are much too genteel to do such a despicable act.