Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unprecedented ban against Matt Hartmann

LIKE I said in a previous post (click here), the PFF made the villain, former U23 captain Matthew Hartmann, the victim by barring him from being able to work in the United Football League for an infraction involving the national team.

I can understand the anger against Hartmann’s act, abandoning the national team in the Southeast Asian Games and I guess a lifetime ban from playing for the flag was a justified reaction from the PFF.

But a ban, too, in club football action?
That’s a cruel punishment, don’t you think? And even the guys who hate Hartmann’s guts for what he did, think so.

And that speaks a lot.

Sure, the PFF Appeals Committee has lowered the club football suspension from a lifetime ban, to a one-year ban, including time served, but for me, even a one-match ban in club football is one too many.


For me, I think if the ban also covered tournaments organized by the PFF, then that would have been just, too. But for all tournaments sanctioned by the PFF? That’s way too much.

The suspicious guy in me kind of thinks Matt is being used as a pawn, to prove that in the Philippines, the PFF is the god of football—piss them off, and you piss your livelihood goodbye.  This act is tantamount to the PFF telling the UFL, we decide who plays in your league.

Remember Les Bleus? And the farce of a protest during the World Cup in South Africa? Most of the guys were barred from national team duties, some were made to pay a fine, too. But it never occurred to France’s football federation, to bar them too, from club duties.  Ricardo Carvalho also abandoned Portugal’s training camp and got a one-year ban from the national team for his efforts but no word on club suspension, too.

This is such an unprecedented penalty that the closest thing to compare it to is say, having the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas suspend a Smart Gilas player from playing in the PBA for a year for an infraction in an international match.

Of course, that wouldn’t happen because of the politics of the basketball world, where the professional league yields more power than the governing body, unless of course, MVP, who is involved in both the PBA and the SBP, steps in.

But in the case of Philippine football? The professional league, while gaining ground in the public consciousness, plays second fiddle to the PFF.

If he wants to, Matt will have a case if he decides to challenge this decision in the appropriate body, but will it be worth it? It took almost six months for the initial decision to come out, will his appeal take another six months too?

And if he does get a favorable decision, would the PFF be compelled to shoulder his back wages?

Curiously though, the one-year suspension from PFF-related activities also reminds me of the case of a couple of players, who, in theory, should also be suspended from all PFF-sanctioned tournaments for a year, but has played in tournaments not sanctioned by the PFF, even the UFL.

Like I said, the villain has been made the victim, and during all of this uncertainty, you have to commend Hartmann and Loyola for honoring the PFF decision, because I think, they’re the first club that I know who did so.

There has been a lot of suspensions from PFF-related activities in the past, where guys who faced such bans get to play in another event. In theory, all football tournaments in the country should be sanctioned by the PFF, but that’s not the case in reality.  So, we’ve had guys who got banned playing in a tournament, whose organizers didn’t bother to ask the blessing of the FA, and by extension, the PFF.

Anyway, now that the PFF has handed down its decision, I hope, it will act as decisively on other cases that I think deserves a ban, and I mean those that involve cheating and violence in PFF-organized tournaments.

Not doing so, make it seems, they have an axe to grind against Matt.

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