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Hibernians expects MFA general secretary to carry responsibility for Rutjens’ blunder

Hibernians said the Malta FA had committed a serious error in the registration of Christian Rutjens as Ħamrun Spartans player. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Paolites say club was damaged after losing protest to Ħamrun Spartans

(Updated with Malta FA reaction)

Hibernians FC is expecting the Malta Football Association to take responsibility for clear errors made by the local football governing body’s administration in the registration process of defender Christian Rutjens.

The Premier League club issued a statement in reaction to the Malta FA Protest Board’s decision to not uphold the Paolites’ complaint over the eligibility of Rutjens during the Premier League match against Ħamrun Spartans last month, won by the latter 2-1.

Hibernians argued that Rutjens did not serve the three-match he had picked up with his former club Floriana and therefore could not be included by the Spartans in their squad.

Hibernians said that they had submitted several documents and made a detailed reference to the regulations of MFA and FIFA as well as decisions taken by the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

“On merit, the club was right to the extent that the Malta FA Protest Board recognised that the player didn’t serve all the suspension according to the regulations,” the club said.

“Thus a serious precedent against the integrity of the game was created.

“It’s a clear principle of sporting rights that a club is always responsible for the eligibilty of his player, as maintained by the regulations of MFA, FIFA and in the majority of decisions taken by the CAS. These were all passed on to the Board, who, however, decided in a different way.”

Hibernians FC said that the Malta FA Protest Board had clearly said in its decision that the MFA had admitted that it had committed a mistake.

“In its decision, the Malta FA Protest Board said without reservations that the MFA had admitted that it had committed a mistake by failing to indicate in the TMS system that the player had a suspension that he had to serve,” Hibernians said.

“The club observes that this admission by the Malta FA over its serious deficiencies was not made during the sitting in front of the MFA Protest Board, and thus, it was done privately without any of the involved clubs allowed to confront this statement during the hearing.

“With the decision of the Board, it’s only our club that will suffer from the mistake that the MFA had admitted that it had committed.

“In the light of the fact that this case came about from a serious error of the association, the club is awaiting the reaction of the same MFA and its decisions, including how the general secretary will carry his responsibility for it.

“Finally, the club reserves its right to take the necessary steps to safeguard its rights.”

The Malta Football Association has hit back at Hibernians’ claims and said that all documentation in relation of the player’s transfer from Floriana FC to Calcio Foggia 2020 in January 2023, indicating that the player had no pending suspension, was sent to both parties in the protest a week before the hearing, i.e. January 25, 2024.

“Added to that the club had the option to bring in witnesses even from the Association’s administration during the hearing, as they had indicated to be planning to do,” the Malta FA said.

“Therefore it is incorrect to give the impression that there was no full disclosure of the circumstances in the case from the association’s part.

“Rather, the verification of facts as happened witnesses the independence of the board from the same administration.

“Based on Article 64(13) of the statutes, the decisions taken by the Protest Board are final and bind all parties concerned, and therefore the association will not be commenting further on the case.”



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