Morvant Caledonia United, the T&T Pro League campaigners which was on the verge of winning the Ascension Invitational Football League's $250,000 cash prize, was disqualified from having any further part in the tournament, for its player part in an alleged assault of match officials following a crucial match with Defence Force on Wednesday evening at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, Arima.
The ban came from Tournament Organizer Richard Ferguson, who in a release issued on Friday night, said the decision came after a thorough investigation of the incident.
Circulating video footage showed players from the Morvant-based team allegedly assaulting assistant referee Kirt Charles after the match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Army Coast-Guard Combination team.
It is understood the Caledonia players were infuriated after the game's only goal scored by Jerwyn Balthazar was allowed to stand by referee Crystal Sobers.
Ferguson in his release said- "At match number 51, the home game of Caledonia against Defence Force, was played at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 18th September 2019. At the end of the game, there was an assault involving Caledonia players, team officials, match referees and assistant referee. The match commissioner subsequently made a report regarding the incident and an investigation was conducted by the competition manager and other officials of the tournament. The investigation included eyewitness accounts, video graphic evidence, statements from the match commissioner, the referee and the assistant referee, along with players, coaches and officials of Caledonia. After seeking legal advice and consulting the rules of the competition, along with FIFA rules, a decision was taken to disqualify Caledonia from the Ascension Invitational Tournament."
Contacted yesterday for a comment, Jamal Shabazz, Caledonia's chief cook and bottle - washer, said he had no comment to make. "Nobody in Caledonia has any comment to make on this matter. Let the Scribes and the Pharisees have their day. Our time will come," Shabazz explained.
Meanwhile, the assault on the match official was also condemned by the membership of the T&T Football Referee Association, through its General Secretary Boni Bishop.
A release from that organisation which also came on Friday stated, "The membership of the T&T Football Referees Association condemns in the strongest terms, the attack on the officials officiating the Morvant-Caledonia AIA vs Defence Force match played on Wednesday 18th September 2019. Match Officials provide a necessary service in the conduct of the game of football, making judgments on the match, in accordance with, the Laws of the Game."
It added, "Players and team officials do damage when they seek to pronounce on situations, which are provided for in the Laws, and worse when they react in ways which directly compromise the safety of our match officials. Such actions only help to bring the game into disrepute, and must be condemned by all parties which have an interest in the sport."
"The T&T Football Referees Association will support the strongest disciplinary action taken against the offenders in the situation which has been well-documented in video evidence. Failure to take serious action will create a precedent which can contribute to even more serious incidents in the future… this must be avoided at all cost."
The tournament enters its final round today with leaders Defence Force (25 points) set to clinch the title with a win over Matura ReUnited at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva from 4 pm. With Caledonia out, third-place Cunupia FC, with 19 points, can only battle for the runner-up spot of $125, 000 when they tackle Police 3:30 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium. San Juan Jabloteh, who are also on 19 points, can wrestle the second-place prize if they win tomorrow against Terminix La Horquetta Rangers at La Horquetta from 6 pm.
Cunupia FC vs Police, 3:30 pm @Larry Gomes Stadium
Prison Service FC vs Guaya United FC, 4 pm @YTC Arouca
Defence Force vs Matura ReUnited, 4 pm @ Ato Boldon Stadium
QPCC vs Club Sando, 4 pm @ St Mary's College Grid
1*Defence Force F.C*10*8*1*1*22*6*16*25
2*Morvant Caledonia AIA*10*8*0*2*21*11*10*24
4*Terminix La Horquetta Rangers F.C*10*6*2*2*36*8*28*20
5*San Juan Jabloteh*9*6*1*2*20*13*7*19
6*Club Sando F.C*10*5*1*4*18*14*4*16
8*F.C. Santa Rosa*10*3*2*5*14*24*-10*11
10*Guaya United F.C*10*2*0*8*7*24*-17*6
11*Prison Service F.C*10*1*1*8*11*27*-16*4
12*Matura ReUnited F.C*10*1*1*8*11*41*-30*4