CAF sucked into Lioli, LCS row

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MASERU — The confusing and drawn-out wrangle over Lesotho’s only Champions League spot continues, with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) apparently getting involved.
The Lesotho Times understands that CAF wrote to the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) on Tuesday.
Although this newspaper could not verify the contents of the directive at the time of print, it is believed CAF have pointed out that the Champions League is reserved for champions.
The quarrel between Lefa and Lioli escalated this week with Lefa singing two different tunes.
On Monday Lefa, through their public relations officer Baba Malephane, announced that Lioli would not compete in any continental competition next year.
However, a letter dated October 8 written to Lioli by Lefa’s president Salemane Phafane states otherwise.
Even though Phafane again asserts that LCS will be registered in next year’s Champions League, he says “Lefa will continue to register Lioli FC for the CAF Cup”.
Lioli only received the president’s correspondence on Monday morning.
The team hastily arranged a press conference to respond to Malephane’s statement.
“We spoke (this morning) to the CEO (acting Lefa chief executive officer Mokhosi Mohapi) and he said the matter would be solved in due course. We are surprised and we are scared because we have not been made aware of this decision. At no time was anything clarified,” Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana said at the conference.
“In reference to CAF’s rules we as Lioli see ourselves as eligible (to participate in the Champions League),” Thotanyana said. “The Premier League laws (which are) written by Lefa very clearly say the ones who will play are the league champions. We are not aware of any time when the laws were changed.”
“The president said he would register Lioli in the CAF Cup,” Thotanyana added.
“Within an hour or less of his saying that Lefa had changed their decision. Either that or Malephane is in direct conflict with his president.”
Monday’s events are the clearest indication of the extent of the confusion that surrounds the Champions League issue.
Lefa has chosen LCS to participate in the Champions League. Masheshena finished third last season.
Lefa’s reason for shunning Lioli is because the club wrote to CAF.
But it is within the club’s right to talk to CAF and Thotanyana insisted Lefa had not prohibited the club from talking to CAF.
However, Thotanyana also pressed that despite Lefa rejecting their request for arbitration he did not want the matter to go to the courts.
“Lefa’s rules say that you have to exhaust the internal remedies,” Thotanyana said. “There is a solution, we have to read the rules.”
One source of confusion is the terms being used by Lefa. The Premier League rules give reference to three CAF tournaments — the African Cup of Club Champions competition, the CAF Cup and the Cup Winner’s Cup.
There are however only two continental competitions the Champions League and the Confederation Cup. In 2004 the CAF Cup, which was contested by national league runner-ups, was merged with the Cup Winner’s Cup to create the Confederation Cup.
The Champions League remains the championship exclusively for league champions. Only the 12 highest countries on CAF’s five-year club ranking cycle enter two clubs. And even then the team that enters is strictly the second-placed team.
This season Egypt’s third-placed side Zamalek were not allowed to replace their counterparts, runners-up Ismialy, who pulled out.
Egypt is one of the countries that have two spots reserved.
It is unclear which status LCS will be registered with.However, Lefa’s national executive is said to have met last night to deliberate on the matter.

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