There will be one less quarter-final taking place this weekend in the BC Soccer Provincial A Cup following the expulsion of VMSL Imperial Cup champions Rino’s Tigers from the competition for fielding an ineligible player in their first round hammering of FVSL side Aldergrove United.
Rino’s won their first round match 6-0 at Burnaby Lake last weekend and were preparing for their quarter-final game against another FVSL side, Langley United tomorrow when the news of their expulsion was handed down by BC Soccer. And that’s where things get both a little bit interesting, complicated, and frankly murky.
In the Provincial Cups teams have 24 hours to protest the result (it’s 48 in the domestic leagues). Except Aldergrove United have confirmed to Rino’s Tigers that they were not involved in filing a protest directly. In correspondence seen by AFTN in handing out the result of the protest, it is addressed to “Thomas Mills, Administrator, Fraser Valley Soccer League on behalf of Rob Hildebrandt, Team Manager, Aldergrove United”.
Mills is the Executive Director of the Fraser Valley Soccer League, so this would appear to be in contravention of rules 11 (f) and (i) of the BC Soccer Rules and Regulations, namely:
(f) An affiliated team may lodge a protest with a district, league or inter‐district league arising out of any league or district cup game scheduled by a district, league or inter‐district league. Such protest must be in writing, stating the grounds upon which the protest is lodged.
(i) The protest shall be signed by the team coach or manager.
Rino’s argued that the protest was neither lodged by Aldergrove United, nor signed by any of their coach or manager: Rob Hildebrant and Carly Stromsen. If that was the case the protest should have be deemed invalid and thrown out. Rino’s made multiple requests to BC Soccer to be provided with a copy of the protest, but this was not forthcoming. This in itself goes against BC Soccer’s Rule 11 (h).
(h) A copy of the protest shall be forwarded by the association having jurisdiction to the opposing team within two (2) working days after the receipt of the protest. Upon receipt of the protest the opposing team shall have a maximum of 48 hours to supply a response to the committee, failing which the committee may render its decision based solely on the information provided by the protesting team.
The Rino’s player in question, who we have chosen not to name as it’s a bit unfair on him, had played overseas and an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) has not been obtained for him to play amateur football with the Tigers.
Now the fact is that is correct> He had been, but he was playing amateur football here previously and had played for Rino’s for most of the season without it ever having been an issue. Tigers told AFTN and BC Soccer that they were “not aware” that the player was registered in a league outside of Canada and this simply highlights the difficulty of amateur clubs and their volunteer club staff knowing the full playing history of all players, and correctly follow the international transfer process.
Players are registered with the local leagues and BC Soccer and frankly, the onus should be on those bodies to do their due diligence. If they haven’t there should be no recourse for the clubs if their registration has been approved.
Highlighting this further, Rino’s lodged their own protest that a player on Aldergrove also did not have an ITC, despite playing for them this season. This was also found to be true and both clubs were thrown out of the competition, allowing Langley United (coincidentally another FVSL side) to advance to the semi-finals for the second straight year.
Again, we won’t name this player, who had played in Germany, but it shows that this is an issue affecting all the local leagues and it is believed that there could be a number of players across BC that could be found to have the same issues of having played overseas at some point (which includes the US) and not having an ITC, further showing how hard it is to properly monitor all these players.
It’s never an issue of course, until someone complains, but BC Soccer have to take charge of this and be the solution. A good start would be reinstating Rino’s Tigers and getting their quarter-final with Langley played. This is a competition with a proud history and results should be achieved on the pitch, not through loopholes.