Namuwongo Blazers’ 66-45 win over UCU Canons on Saturday is supposed to be their second of the season but it isn’t, at least not just yet.
The 71-66 win over champions City Oilers is now subject to the outcome of the team’s appeal after being caught offside by the competitions council.
The Blazers fielded forward Geoffrey Soro without a Letter of Clearance (LOC) by the basketball federation, Fuba.
Soro featured for Rwandan side 30-Plus in the 2020 season and was required to clear with Fuba before stepping on court for the newly-promoted Blazers.
In a letter sent to the Blazers by Donnan Byabazaire, the chairman Competition Council, the good news only stops with the first paragraph in which the committee warmly welcomes the team to the 2021 basketball season.
The rest of the letter suggests the Namuwongo side might have started life in the top-flight on the wrong note.
“The council regrettably noted that your team fielded Geoffrey Soro thereby violating Article 3.01 of the Fuba rules and regulations on player eligibility,” part of the letter reads.
The Fuba rules and regulations state that: “A player who contravenes any part of the player eligibility rule will be fined $20 or its equivalent in Uganda Shilling and a ban of four games suspension.”
The federation, however, opted to reduce the player suspension to two games because of the short season.
A club that fields an ineligible player is also fined $40 or its equivalent in Shilling and forfeits the game.
Indeed, there was no letter allowing Soro to play locally having been licenced by another national federation in 2020. He needed a LOC to return to a Ugandan team.
The Blazers admit but accuse the Competitions Council of failure to communicate the player’s status prior to the game.
In their appeal, the Blazers said: “As required by the Competitions Council, we submitted and fully registered our team for the 2021 season within the set deadline of April 12, 2021 for verification by the same council.
“The Council and the game supervisor all cleared the team to play without sighting any anomaly.”
The competition rules, however state that clubs are responsible for the eligibility of players at all times and will bear the consequences of any infractions of the regulations governing eligibility, national status and international transfer.
Blazers manager Farouk Sewava said the team wants to know how City Oilers got to know about Soro’s status and whether their complaint was sent within 24 hours as required by the rules.
With the Blazers appealing, Soro played 25 minutes and scored four points in the team’s second game of the season against UCU.
A decision will be taken by the Fuba tribunal after hearing from both sides.