Weekly CEO Column: Interview with the LFI Disciplinary Committee - Philippines Football League
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Weekly CEO Column: Interview with the LFI Disciplinary Committee

Following from my first column last week, we invited the LFI Disciplinary Committee (“Committee”) to provide insights on how decisions were taken by the Committee in accordance with the PFF Disciplinary Code (“Code”). This was also to address several concerns raised by fans in our social media platforms.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr., Chairman of the Committee, Atty. Renato Bartolo Jr., and Atty. James Jorvina, both members of the Committee.

The Committee was asked pertinent questions in relation to the application, scope, organisation and procedures of the Code.

We have prepared a short video highlighting some of the questions, with the transcript (edited for simplicity) below.

1. On Disciplinary Procedure:

Disciplinary procedures are prescribed under the PFF Disciplinary Code. In summary, the Committee (through the secretariat) opens investigation based on the report(s) submitted by the Referee and the Match Commissioner (match officials). Any person or body may also report conduct that he or it considers incompatible with the regulations of the PFL, such complaint must be in writing. The secretariat, under the guidance of the Chairman, issues (charge) notices to the parties involved. The notice prescribes the alleged facts, applicable provisions of the Code (and where relevant, regulations of the PFL), and timeline to reply to the notice. The parties are required to collaborate to establish the facts. The Committee decides based on its jurisdiction under Article 76 and 77 of the Code. The decisions are then communicated to the parties concern. If the decisions are contestable, the parties have the right to appeal before the LFI Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 118 of the Code.

2. On the difference between the LFI Disciplinary Committee and the PFF Disciplinary Committee:

The Committee has jurisdiction to deal with all disciplinary matters arising from the League (PFL). The PFF Disciplinary Committee has jurisdiction to deal with all disciplinary matters other then those under the jurisdiction of the Committee.

3. On Sanctions:

The list of sanctions are provided under the Code. Sanctions common to natural and legal persons are provided under Article 10 of the Code, which (inter alia) includes fine; Article 11 of the Code, applying to natural persons (e.g. players, officials) provides for (inter alia) match suspension and Article 12 of the Code, applying to legal person (e.g. Clubs) provides for (inter alia) playing a match without spectators.

4. On Scope of Application:

Pursuant to Article 3 of the Code, the Code applies to clubs or teams participating in the tournament, including their officials and players. It also applies to match officials and more importantly, the spectators or fans of the clubs. The clubs are responsible for the conduct of their fans.

5. On Types of Proof:

Pursuant to Article 96 of the Code, any type of proof may be produced. In particular, the following are admissible; reports from the referees, assistant referees, match commissioners, declaration from the parties and witness, material evidence, expert opinions, audio and video recordings of incidents. The Committee also applies the jurisprudence of the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS) where necessary.

6. On Limitation Period:

Pursuant to Article 42 of the Code, infringements committed during a match cannot be prosecuted after a lapse of 2 years; for violations of anti-doping regulations, the limitation period is 8 years; prosecution for corruption is not subject to a limitation period and for all other infringements, it should be prosecuted within 10 years.

7. On Duty to Collaborate:

Pursuant to Article 110 of the Code, parties are obliged to collaborate to establish facts. In particular, they must comply with requests for information from the Committee. Whenever deemed necessary, the secretariat verifies the parties versions of the facts. if the parties are dilatory in responding, the Chairman is empowered to impose a warning and fine. If the parties fail to collaborate, especially if they ignore the stipulated time limits, the Committee will reach a decision on the case using the file in its possession.

8. On Due Process:

The Committee adopts due process and this is reflected in the Code. Pursuant to Article 94 of the Code, parties shall be heard before any decision is passed. This means that the parties may refer to the file; present their argument in fact and in law; request production of proof; be involved in the production of proof and obtain a reasoned decision.

We hope this information helps football stakeholders to understand the legal processors involved in the decision making of the judicial bodies in football.

Lazarus J. Xavier

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