BEBL Team Owners outline their position on challenges in the sport
The owners of five teams in the BEBL this morning hosted a press briefing today to tell their side of the story as it relates to several issues in the sport. The Belmopan Red Tigers, the Cayo Western Ballaz, the Griga Dream Ballers, the Orange Walk Running Rebels, and the Belize City Defenders say that the Appeals Tribunal decision following Kirk “Shabba” Smith, Jr.’s signing of two contracts with two different teams is the crux of a serious issue in the sport. The backstory is that Smith’s signing contracts with the Belize Hurricanes and the Belize City Defenders was illegal and the by-laws state he should be suspended for a year. However, that decision was appealed and the Appeals Tribunal – who has now resigned en mass – determined that the suspension be overturned. This type of thing has happened before and Karim Juan of the Cayo Western Ballers, when he was League Commissioner, explained how these double signings were handled.
Karim Juan, Cayo Western Ballers: “So previously while I was the commissioner we had two instances where a player signed two contracts. So I had requested that both teams submit the signed contract to the league office which both teams did. I vetted the contracts to review the contracts that they were valid. After coming to that decision both teams were informed that the player will be suspended unless one team is willing to release the player and declare that contract null and void.”
In those cases, one of the teams would release the player from their contract, allowing one contract to remain in place. In turn, the player would be suspended for a game and then be fined. However, in Smith’s case, both teams – in this case, the Hurricanes and the Defenders – both maintain valid contracts. Juan and the Defenders’ Reynaldo Malik both contend that the Appeals Tribunal’s reasoning was flawed for one important reason.
Karim Juan, Cayo Western Ballers: “They got that from the same bylaws that said if a player signs two contracts he’s suspended a year. So you cannot reference the bylaws in regards to the sole autonomy of the appeals committee but then ignore the bylaws on the fact that a player who signs two contracts will be suspended for a year. So it’s the same document we’re dealing with. Why didn’t we stop the appeals process? Because that’s not in our jurisdiction that’s the commissioner that makes that decision and we have no responsibility there. Why didn’t Defenders send in the correct contract ? Because they were told by the Commissioner’s Office just to send the email thread so that’s what they did so where does the fault lie ? It surely does not lie with the managers.”
Reynaldo Mailk, Belize City Defenders: “We acted in good faith at all times throughout this process going all the way back to December when we signed this player. It was the player himself that informed us that he had been approached by Hurricanes after he had signed with us. It was the player that signed the contract and returned the contract to us. It wa the player that transmitted and sent us via WhatsApp pictures of him signing that contract.”
So now that it appears the decision to let Smith play will be unchanged, these five teams have decided their courses of action. These actions of the five teams, when they interact with the Hurricanes will likely cause unprecedented irregularities. Juan explained.
Karim Juan, Cayo Western Ballers: “Yes we’re aware of that. Of course the most drastic position would be well we’re just crashing this season but the investments are too high, our fanbases are too loyal and the love for the sport is too passionate for everybody to just say it’s either or. So we’re trying to find a middle ground to ensure that the season continues. So the ultimate goal of the managers is to ensure that the season continues so that was extraordinary middle ground that we will venture into. So they can field Smith at our home games and we will play them but we will not count their points as a win so once Kirk Smith is on the court then they lose by forfeiture. So they’ll get zero points for that game. So everything falls on Hurricane’s lap to a precedent that they established, to something they agreed on on Friday not the managers. They agreed they would not play him the on Monday they changed their position not the managers. Where we are today was where we were Friday morning we had resolved this issue Friday Hurricanes said they would no longer play Kirk Smith but obviously they did that only in an attempt to get their home game Friday night then Monday their position changed. So we’re saying you had already agreed to it, this is the position we will go with.”
Just before news time, the BEBL Commissioner sent out a press statement, which reads in part quote “During this press conference, certain seriously defamatory statements were made concerning the Office of Commissioner, impugning criminal and improper conduct on the part of the Commissioner and his Office. These statements are untrue and constitute libel against the Commissioner and his Office. We demand that the members of the league cease and desist from making any defamatory statements against the Office of the Commissioner. As a result, sanctions will be issued against all relevant parties who have brought the league into disrepute and have failed to follow the Bylaws that prohibit the publishing or posting of negative comments regarding the Office of the Commissioner and the league.” End quote.