Nearly a week after the conclusion of the 2016/17 Azam Rwanda Premier League (ARPL) season, the Rwanda Football Federation (FERWAFA) is yet to set the date for the presentation of the trophy to Rayon Sports.
This is largely down to continued disagreement between FERWAFA and Rayon Sports on the date when the crowning ceremony should be held, even as the club seems to have decided on the date – albeit allegedly unilaterally.
According to the club secretary general, Olivier Gakwaya, Rayon Sports will be handed the trophy when they play Tanzania giants Azam FC in a friendly match on July 8 at Stade de Kigali in Nyamirambo.
However, FERWAFA insists no date has been agreed upon by the two parties yet.
The club won their eighth league title following a 2-1 win over Mukura with four games to spare and then said their wish was to receive the trophy during their final home game on May 28.
That’s the date when the Blues were due to host archrivals and outgoing champions APR at Stade de Kigali. However, FERWAFA turned down their wish insisting that the ceremony will be conducted after the final match of the season on June 15 – the day when they beat another of their rivals, SC Kiyovu, effectively condemning them to their first ever relegation to the second-tier league.
But Rayon Sports were quick to protest the decision and even threatened to boycott the remaining two games if FERWAFA did not rescind their decision.
However, they later wrote to FERWAFA asking them to organise a friendly game at the end of the season specifically meant for trophy-presentation ceremony.
Speaking to Times Sport in an exclusive interview, Gakwaya said the federation had responded positively to their new request, with Rayon going on to invite Azam FC for the friendly game and scheduled it for July 8.
“We have invited Azam, they will be here on July 6, we will play them on July 8 and they will go back on July 9, we expect it to be a big event, preparations are going on already and we want to make it a colorful event,” said Gakwaya.
However, FERWAFA spokesperson Prosper Ruboneza, speaking to this paper, denied a date had been agreed while he also disassociated the federation from the decision to invite the Tanzanian giants.
“Rayon Sports cannot invite a club without the recommendation from the federation, we are still in discussions, nothing has been agreed yet, at least not on the date and we have not been involved in inviting Azam, neither have we officially been notified,” he said, although he admitted that July 6 is one of the dates being considered. “Once a decision has been taken we will release a statement to that effect.”
He added: “We will announce the official date (of the match) when we receive an official letter from Rayon Sports inviting Azam FC and once the latter have officially confirmed.”
Ruboneza insists FERWAFA needs to endorse Rayon’s invite to Azam.
Rayon Sports won this season’s title with 73 points, 12 points ahead of closest contenders Police FC, while outgoing champions APR finished in third with 57 points.
SC Kiyovu and Pepiniere FC were relegated while Miroplast FC and Isonga FC have been promoted to the top-flight league from the second-tier division.