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Hibernians’ protest over eligibility of Ħamrun defender Rutjens not upheld by MFA

Hibernians complained over the eligibility of Ħamrun Spartans defender Christian Rutjens. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

The Malta FA Protest Board did not uphold Hibernians complaint against the result of their Premier League against Ħamrun Spartans that was held earlier this month.

The Spartans had won the Premier League match 2-1 to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League standings.

However, the result of that match was questioned by Hibernians who complained to the local governing body of football over the eligibility of Ħamrun Spartans defender Christian Rutjens who had made his debut with the Malta champions after coming on as a second-half substitute during the match.

“The Malta Football Association’s Protests Board has not upheld a protest filed by Hibernians FC in connection to their BOV Premier League match against Ħamrun Spartans played on Saturday 20th January 2024,” the MFA said in a statement.

“Ħamrun Spartans had won the match 2-1, following which Hibernians FC had filed the protest claiming the ineligibility of Ħamrun Spartans FC player Christian Rutjens.

“Following the decision of the Protests Board, the result of the said match stands.”

The Paolites contended that the Spanish defender was ineligible to play part of the match as he had not served a three-match ban he picked up with his former club Floriana a couple of years ago.

Since he left Floriana, Rutjens went on to play for Italian side Foggia before moving to Romania and join Chandia.

The MFA Protest Board heard both clubs’ arguments on the subject with the Paolites contending that Rutjens should have served his three-match ban before making his debut with the Spartans and therefore his presence on the pitch went against the rules.

On the other hand, Ħamrun contended that Rutjens had already served his suspension during his spells with Foggia and Romanian side Chandia and therefore was fully eligible to play against the Paolites.

After analysing both sides’ arguments, the Protest Board threw out Hibernians’ arguments and ruled that the result should stand.

This means that Ħamrun Spartans will retain the 2-1 victory over Hibernians and remain at the top of the standings, three points clear of Floriana.

 On the other hand, Hibernians remain sixth in the standings on 21 points, level with Birkirkara and Naxxar Lions.

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