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Updated: ‘Shocking and Disrespectful’ as Swieqi United pull teams from youth finals

Photo: Jonathan Sajeba

Club was set to play U-21 and U-17 women KO finals in less than 24 hours

Swieqi United have announced that they will not be fielding their sides in both U-21’s and U-17’s women Knock-Out finals on Sunday and Monday, the club said on Saturday evening.

On Thursday, Swieqi president Dr Justin Fenech said that he was disappointed that the Malta Football Association had not taken seriously the welfare of young players by rescheduling the U-17’s and U-21’s women’s KO finals, pencilled to be played in less than 24 hours between Sunday and Monday, and said that he was seriously considering pulling out one of his teams from playing.

The Malta Football Association scheduled the final of the U-21’s final between Swieqi and Raiders, for Sunday at the Centenary Stadium, with kick-off set at 11am.

Then the following day, Swieqi were due be in action again in the U-17 KO final against Hibernians at the Marsascala Stadium, at 10am.

“By 6pm today we still received no official communication from the MFA. Shocking and Disrespectful,” the club statement said on their Facebook page.

“We have been left with no choice. Swieqi United FC has written to the MFA informing them that we shall not be participating in the finals of the U17s Women and the U21s Women Trophy.”

“It has been a hard decision but it was taken unanimously between executive, coaches, players and parents. Having been put in a situation which is unfair and unjust; a situation which would effect the mental and physical health of our players – we have chosen the safeguarding of our players over the trophies provided by the MFA.”

“We would like to thank all those who have supported us, all those that tried to reach out to the MFA on our behalf and the media who have promoted our message.”

“We also wish to thank our coaches, parents and players – its not been easy for them and they don’t deserve this disrespect and discrimination – but they have remained united and undaunted. Thank you! #ForzaSwieqi”

The issue revolves around the fact, that given the pool of players in the young age categories, clubs are forced to use the same players in different age groups, and this weekend Swieqi United would have been forced to field some of their players in both matches, putting in danger their well-being.

“It’s a known fact that given the small pool of players that exists in the youth competition of women’s football, clubs have the chance to field any of their players in two categories of the following competitions – U-17 league, U-21 league, and the senior championship,” Dr Fenech had told the Times of Malta on Thursday.

“Thus, I cannot understand how if the MFA is aware that these players could be involved in both matches it schedules these two finals in less than 24 hours, it’s insensitive. We had already notified the governing body of such scenario when these fixtures were published before we had played in the final, and nothing was done.

“After our qualification, we again contacted the MFA on the issue and so far nothing has been changed. I believe that all clubs should be put on equal ground ahead of a final but we are being put in a disadvantage.

“Our youngsters have worked hard to reach these two finals and it’s not fair that they are put in this difficult situation. To this end, I need to protect the welfare of my players and if the situation doesn’t change I will have no option but to pull out one of the teams from playing the final.

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