TEYATEYANENG — Lioli’s finest moment in football last Saturday was blighted by a boob that saw match officials erroneously get medals meant for the new Buddie Premier League champions.
The mix-up was only the latest embarrassment on the day after the trophy and medal presentation ceremony was held in Teyateyaneng without Lioli’s senior executive officials present.
After realising the gaffe, the Premier League has called on the four match officials who handled Lioli’s title-decider against Joy in Hlotse to return the medals.
But the league did not say whether or not Lioli’s bid to have the presentation ceremony held afresh will be successful.
“It was a mistake,” Premier League vice-chairman Motake Motake acknowledged in an interview with the Lesotho Times.
“It was like a cup final and the procedures were like those for a cup final.
“But we have written to those who were (erroneously) handed the medals to give them back.”
The top-flight division’s rules and regulations state that the “winning club of the Premier League shall be awarded 35 gold medals and the runners-up shall receive 35 silver medals”.
Because of the mix-up in Teyateyaneng, Lioli only received 31 medals.
“There are some people who didn’t get their medals on Saturday,” Lioli president Lebohang Thutanyane said.
The final day logistics, with games deciding the championship 85km apart, were always going to be difficult.
Because Lioli were playing away in Hlotse and second-placed LDF were in action in Maseru, the Premier League trophy was placed at the Palace Hotel in Lekokoaneng, a location deemed to be halfway between the two sides’ home grounds – Teyateyaneng and Ratjomose respectively.
The arrangement was that the premiership gong would be presented to the winning team at their home base.
However, according Thutanyane, he and Lioli’s treasurer Likotši Likotši and secretary Chaka Chaka missed the trophy presentation because they were clueless about the final day arrangements.
“The Premier League didn’t tell us where the trophy presentation was going to be,” Thutanyane claimed.
“We just heard through an announcement at the game (in Hlotse).
“When we arrived in TY the trophy had already been presented.”
Thutanyane said the Premier league should apologise to the new champions and re-arrange the trophy and medal presentation ceremony.
“We want to be crowned champions properly or we should get a formal apology from the Premier League,” he said.
“They messed up. How do you arrange a party without the hosts?
“They trespassed on our field and they endangered our supporters who were at the ground at those late hours without adequate security.
“If we had known (about the ceremony plans) we would have arranged some security.
“It’s just poor communication and poor planning.”
However LEFA executive member Thabo Pule, speaking on behalf of the Premier League, contested Thutanyane’s claims.
He said a Lioli representative, Moeketsi Pitso, was at the league’s final day logistics meeting last Tuesday.
“On Friday Pitso went live on radio to announce the decision,” Pule said.
Pitso, Lioli’s public relations officer, was present at Saturday’s ceremony.
Asked whether the Premier League should have written to Lioli to confirm arrangements, Pule said: “Why should I write to the team when their representative was present?
“Everybody except the president and his committee knew about the arrangements for the final day.
“It’s incorrect for him to say that Lioli didn’t know. He should say that he didn’t know, not Lioli.”
The Premier League has since summoned Lioli for a disciplinary hearing next Wednesday.
“The Premier League is going convene to discuss what action it is going to take against Thutanyane. I’m the one that should expect an apology,” Pule said.