The Maccabi League’s management committee has cancelled the registration of London Maccabi Lions goalkeeper Mario Cenolli following a complaint over his eligibility.
Cenolli, who is a regular for London Lions in the Spartan South Midlands League, represented the club’s Sunday A-team in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup semi-final against Faithfold A.
Following the match the league received a complaint questioning whether or not the player is Jewish.
In a statement, league chairman David Wolff said: “The Management Committee, in accordance with rule 8(b), requested that documentary evidence be supplied to the league within 14 days. Since that has not been forthcoming to date his registration has been cancelled immediately until such time as the requirements of rule 8(b) are met."
Lions are scheduled to meet Redbridge Jewish Care in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup final on April 21.
Last season, Hendon United Sports Club, the eventual cup winners, were reinstated in the competition after Redbridge were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player.
Commenting on the decisison, Lions chairman David Pollock said: "We as a club are perfectly satisfied that Mario is Jewish and as qualified to play for us as any other player.
"His maternal grandmother is Jewish, his mother is Jewish and he considers himself to be Jewish. In fact he is probably more halachically Jewish than me but he has struggled to find the documentation which was lost during the second world war.
"Maccabi football has given him the chance to realign himself with his Jewish roots. Lions will not appeal the decision as we don’t want to put the league in an embarrassing position and we’re happy to work with them to satisfy them but how we satisfy them I don’t know.
"As a club, we're very respectful towards the league and what they do and whatever the rules are, we’ll always abide by them.”
Asked if he surprised the club has not been thrown out of the Anekstein, Pollock said: "I believe we have acted with integrity and perhaps the league are being sympathetic towards Mario’s position."
Faithfold assistant-manager Daryl Phillips was surprised to hear that, as things stand, there are no plans to reinstate his team.
"As far as I'm aware, if a team breaks the rules of a competition it is the committee's duty to remove the offending team. This means a return to the competition for the team that was knocked out, surely?
"This is how it worked for Hendon last year when they won the triple was it not?
"Why do we need to appeal? The league surely know what they are doing, don't they?
"I obviously expect the league to be consistent with their punishment on teams and if they believe that Lions played an ineligible player than I will be back at Wingate sooner expected."
Hendon manager David Garbacz is equally mystified. He told JC Sport "The league find themselves in a very tricky position – Lions are the most influential club in the league, but this is the second 'offence' that they are supposed to have committed and if they get away with this one it will certainly look like 'one rule for one and another rule for others'.
"I have no idea as to the credibility of the complaint but if it is proved to be correct then surely rules must be rules with absolutely no exceptions."