The Imo Football Association has thrown out Heartland's protest that their quarter final opponents Police Machine fielded an ineligible player for lack of sufficient evidence. In its place, the Naze Millionaires and their protocol officer Tonnex Chukwu have been fined 300,000 naira.
The defending champions of the Federation Cup will replay the troubled tie against Police Machine on Wednesday.
Heartland were trailing 0-1 in the match played in Owerri before it was abandoned after they refused to take a late penalty kick awarded them despite directives from the match officials for them to do so.
After the meeting of the Organising and Disciplinary Committee of the Imo FA on Monday afternoon, both teams were appropriately sanctioned.
The Naze Millionaires were fined 250,000 naira for their refusal to continue the game after they were awarded a penalty as directed by the centre referee which the Imo FA reckoned led to pitch encroachment by supporters loyal to Heartland.
Chukwu was fined 50,000 naira for what the FA termed his gross act of indiscipline. He was alleged to have led Heartland’s supporters to encroach the field of play which led to the disruption of the game.
In the same vein, Police Machine was also fined a sum of 50,000 naira because the Imo FA alleged the team’s technical officials encroached on the field of play which also affected the restart of the game.
Emman Ochiaga, chairman of the Imo FA O&D told Goal.com that the decision taken by the committee was reached after a cursory look at the arguments of the two clubs and he stated that all the fines imposed must be paid before the replay billed for Dan Anyiam Stadium on Wednesday.
“The Imo FA was not in any way pressured into making any decision and the verdict was given after we had taken a look at the defence from both parties. We are doing everything we can to ensure that we set a good precedent,” said Ochiaga.
“There won’t be any reason to doubt the integrity of the match officials that will be called to take charge of proceedings because if we are unable to get good hands here because of fear of the unknown, we shall seek alternatives in neighbouring states for fair officiating.”
In a related development, the coordinator of the Police Machine team, DSP Kefas Go’ar stated that the team would challenge the verdict of the Imo FA O&D.
The Police Sports Officer for Zone 9 noted that since the referee ended the tie after Heartland’s refusal to continue with the game, they ought to have been awarded the match in consonance with FIFA directives.
“We are going to appeal the verdict. We won the match 1-0 because the match officials ended the game. We have the video tape to show to the world. We are not going to be allowed to be cheated at all,” Go’ar said.
Heartland however said they are still studying the content of the verdict sent to them and will only make a statement after they meet on Tuesday to deliberate on the latest development.