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Penang's loss become PDRM's gain after FIFA decision

Pulau Pinang thought they had staged a final day miracle to gain promotion to the 2020 Super League but a former import's claim turned things around.

Less than 24 ours ago, Penang and their fans though the win over PDRM at Hang Jebat Stadium on the final day of the 2019 Malaysia Premier League season coupled with the result over at the UiTM versus Negeri Sembilan match had enabled them to gain promotion to the Super League next season.

Their celebrations were shortlived after Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) revealed that Football Association of Penang (FAP) had been slapped with a six-point deduction due to previously unpaid wages to former player Reinaldo Lobo who played for the team betweeen 2015 to 2017. 

The decision was handed out by world football governing body FIFA, whom Lobo through his lawyer had submitted the complaint over the unpaid wages. With that, despite losing to Penang yesterday, PDRM had finished third in the Premier League and with that, gained promotion to the Super League next season.

FAM had submitted three appeals in their bid to help Penang and not to enforce the points penalty on them. However because of differences in understanding the dates of the applied currency exchange and subsequent delay in transfer of payment from Malaysia to Brazil, Penang had been dealt the crucial blow. 

Ultimately Penang cannot have any qualms about the punishment they were handed given that they were the ones who initially did not pay Lobo's wages and their subsequent failure to be swift in their actions to pay Lobo following FIFA's decision.

Chronology of events:

25th March 2019: FIFA sent a decision from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which instructed FAP to pay Reinaldo a sum of USD90,000 with interest of 5%.  FIFA also imposed an additional fine of USD10,000 due to FAP's failure to make the initial payments as directed by the FIFA NDRC.  FAP’s failure to make the payment within 30 days will result in a 6-point deduction in their domestic league.

17th April 2019: FAP made a payment of USD92,597.72 (RM386,391.77) to Reinaldo's bank account. The payment was made by FAP directly to Reinaldo without going through FAM.

29th April 2019: Reinaldo's lawyer sent a letter to FIFA informing them that the player had received payment from FAP for USD92,597.72.  However, Reinaldo's lawyer informed that the full payment should be USD97,041.83, with the balance of USD4,444.11 still yet to be paid by FAP.  A copy of the letter was only sent to FAP and not to FAM, thus FAM did not receive any information on the arrears.

28th June 2019: FIFA sent a letter to FAM informing that FAP has failed to make payment within the given period. For that, FIFA demanded that the evidence of the 6-point deduction from the domestic league to be submitted to them by 3rd July 2019. Here, FAM appealed for the first time to FIFA with additional facts for them to consider whereby confusion arose regarding the foreign currency exchange rate - with FAP referring to the rate stated in the player’s contract while FIFA referred to the current rate at the point.

1st July 2019: FAP reimbursed Reinaldo the balance, but the money took some time to process as it was being transferred to his bank account in Brazil. Reinaldo's lawyer informed FIFA that they will notify them if the payment has been fully received only when the remittance is fully processed into Reinaldo's bank account and at the same time informed them that their party will not object if FIFA decided to put the punishment on hold.

2nd July 2019: FAM sent an official letter to FIFA to asked for their view and status of the Reinaldo's application, whether the sentence could be suspended while pending completion of the balance of payment.

3rd July 2019: The date the points deduction should have come into effect, Reinaldo’s lawyer informed FIFA that the balance of the payment was still in the transfer process in the plaintiff’s account and will not stand in the way if the punishment was to be delayed.

4th July 2019: FAM once again sent a second appeal letter to FIFA to reconsider the punishment given as the payment was made fully and taking into consideration FAP taking proactive steps to settle the unpaid wages.

10th July 2019: Reinaldo’s lawyer also confirmed to FIFA that the full payment has indeed been made and called for the case to be closed and that the discplinary action on FAP be dropped.

17th July 2019: FAM received a letter from FIFA informing that the six-point deduction has to be carried out latest before 22nd July 2019 because even though the payment was settled fully, FAP still failed to comply to FIFA’s instructions which was to settle the full payment within 30 days of receiving the initial decision. 

18th July 2019: FAM submit third appeal to FIFA

22nd July 2019: Last day to impose the points deduction as instructed by FIFA and with the unsuccessful appeals to FIFA, FAM forced to forward the letter from FIFA to the Malaysian Football League (MFL) for the governing body of the League of Malaysia to issue a formal letter of a six-point deduction to Penang in their 2019 Premier League campaign.

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