A suspicious protest has been filed against Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko for using midfielder Sulley Ali Sariki Muniru in their CAF Champions League match against Mauritanian side Nouadibou, Ghanasoccernet.com can exclusively reveal.
The protest to CAF on Friday claimed that the two-time African champions fraudulently registered the Ghana Premier League returnee with the Ghana Football Association (GFA).
They are asking CAF to throw Kotoko out of this year's CAF Champions League and ban the Ghanaian giants from continental competitions for the next three years.
This, the protest filed from Mauritania claims, makes the former Europe-based player ineligible to play for Kotoko both in local and continental matches.
Muniru was on the Kotoko teamsheet in their first-leg clash with the Maritanians which ended 1-1 in Nouakchott last week.
Even though the Mauritanian club itself has not filed the protest, a Senegalese journalist working in Mauritania has written to the General Secretary of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to report the alleged illegal use of the player.
Designed not to look like an official protest from Kotoko's rivals Sunday in the second-leg of Africa's flagship club competition, the journalist looks to be acting in the interests of Nouadibou.
The journalist whose identity has not yet been revealed claimed that Sulley Muntari's brother was fraudulently registered by Kotoko in violation of the rules of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), citing media articles and several regualtions of the GFA and CAF.
"Lovers of African football are concerned about the integrity of African competitions, in accordance with article XVI.1 of the CAF Champions League regulations and following the analysis of the regulations in force for the competition, several articles of press and statements, I would like to inform you of a suspected fraud in the registration of the Ghanaian player Mr Sulley Ali Sariki Muniru of the Ghanaian club Asante Kotoko born October 25, 1992," the letter said.
"Indeed the latter was transferred to his new club shortly before the closing of the registration period for professional players in Ghana which is October 31, 2020.
"To be able to register him in the African list, Asante Kotoko proceeded to register this player locally and at the request of the ITC before the end of this registration period (October 31, 2020).
"Article V.1 relating to the registration and qualification of players in the regulations of the African Champions League stipulates that the number and date of registration of the player's license with his own federation must be mentioned (Document 1).
"Subsequently, article XVI.2 should be applied and Asante Kotoko's Ghanaian club should be eliminated and suspended for a period of 3 years from all CAF competitions.
"The club Asante Kotoko club alone assumes this fraud as stipulated in article 26.6 of the statute of the first league Ghanaian (Document 5) which specifies that 'The responsibility for the veracity of the information on the licenses of the players rests with the clubs and not with the GFA'
"Finally, the player Mr Sulley Ali Sariki Muniru was present during the last match of the club Asante Kotoko against the Mauritanian club FC Nouadhibou on 10/29/2020 during the first leg of the 1st preliminary round of the African Champions League (Document 6).
"It is clear that the player did not have been in Ghana before the transfer market closed on October 30 and only arrived in Ghana on November 9 when the market was already closed."
Despite the claims of the protest filed, there are solid reasons why CAF could reject the protest. FIFA regulations state that free transfer players can register at anytime of the season.
As it is also practiced worldwide, several players undergo their medical tests in other countries before travelling to seal their transfers to other federations. This has been done by several players in the English Premier League and La Liga.
CAF is yet to officially respond whether it would entertain a protest from a journalist or even uphold the protest.