Maccabi rep team player investigated

Final may be replayed after victors admit they fielded an unregistered player

By Danny Caro, May 21, 2010
Sam Sloma

Sam Sloma

The Maccabi League Rep team's London Inter-League Cup success is under investigation after it was confirmed that they fielded an unregistered player.

The 3-2 success over the London & Kent Borders League was called into question after it emerged that Sam Sloma had not played any MSFL football this season.

League chairman David Wolff later confirmed that although registered, Aron Barnes of London Maccabi Lions did not meet the qualification requirements either.

Wolff said: "We had players in the side who were ineligible. I didn't know at the time as the manager told me that Sam Sloma had played two games for Neasden this season. This was not the case. As soon as I found out, I did the honourable thing and reported it to the London Inter-League Cup committee."

Sloma, who captained Team GB at the Maccabiah Games last year, helped Cole win the MSFL Premier Division title with Oakwood in season 2002/03. But his career path has since taken him to several semi-professional clubs including Wingate & Finchley, Dagenham & Redbridge and Milwaukee Wave United. This season he helped Conference South side Woking reach the playoff final. Rep team manager Jamie Cole put it down to an "unfortunate misunderstanding" but added: "I take full responsibility for Sam Sloma playing in the final. It was a last-minute call as we had lots of boys drop out on the eve of the game. We had his registration rejected as he was under contract at Woking, but they have now completed their fixtures and I intended to play Sam in Neasden's final league games.

"I was also asked by London Lions management not to start a number of players who were involved in their title run-in. I was therefore, short of players so contacted Wolff to ask for permission to play Sloma, which was granted."

Wolff said: "I blame myself to a degree as I did not check the player's eligibility, but I was at work when Jamie informed me of his plans to play Sam and all my records were at home. I wish I had."

The chairman believes that the LILC committee will "leave the result as it stands, replay the final early next season or to award the match to the other team". He said: "The least we can expect is a heavy fine, and we deserve one. Even if we appealed the decision, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on."

News about Sloma's appearance was met with fury from several MSFL managers. Montana Boca United B's Nick Goodmaker said: "The league punishes teams who play unregistered players and get found out during the course of the season and I cannot believe that the league committee has permitted this player to represent the league when he does not even play in the MSFL.

"To me this is a case of double standards and completely unacceptable. If there is any integrity in football and the MSFL then they should be giving back the trophy to the opposition."

Maccabi coach Darren Yarlett said: "Jamie thought Sam was registered to Neasden. We used 35 players in total over the competition and it wasn't Sam who made the difference. To be honest, he didn't have a great game."

Cole said: "This truly is an unfortunate misunderstanding and such a shame that again managers and players of the MSFL have failed to support the Representative side. The Rep team reached and won its first final in five years and hardly anyone from the MSFL came to support us.

"It is abhorrent that again, rather than supporting the Rep Side, players and managers who have absolutely no interest in supporting it on the way to its first victory in the competition for five years have sought to criticise. It appears to be the same people who always criticise this league, David Wolff and his committee.

"We should be congratulating the boys who played in this competition but instead, people have found it within themselves to criticise one man who has put Jewish football on the map. They should be proud of this Rep Side and I am so proud of every single person who made this victory possible."

Last updated: 12:45pm, May 21 2010