In an unusual case, Justice Nordheimer of the Superior Court of Justice has overturned the result of a youth soccer match.
The Cobras defeated the Strikers 2 – 1 in the semi-final match of the Ontario Cup in the Under 16 Boys Tier 1 Division.
After the match, the Strikers alleged that the Cobras had improperly used six players as “call-ups”. The Ontario Soccer Association (“OSA”) sent notice of the Protest to the Cobras.
A few days later the Cobras received another email from the OSA raising a new issue regarding the semi-final match. In particular, the OSA was raising the eligibility issue of another one of the Cobras’ players, Tristan Borges.
As it turns out, all of the Cobras’ players, including Tristan, were properly rostered for the semi-final match. The alleged improprieties resulted from administrative errors made within the Soccer Association. All of this was made known to the OSA before it rendered its decision on the Protest.
Notwithstanding that the Cobras had done nothing wrong, the OSA, somehow, reached the conclusion that Tristan had been ineligible to play in the semi-final match. They awarded the match to the Strikers.
While the Cobras were in the process of trying to appeal the OSA’s decision, the Strikers went on to win the Ontario Cup final, thus advancing to the National Cup.
When the Cobras were advised that there was no avenue of appeal, they proceeded to the Superior Court for judicial review of the OSA’s decision.
Justice Nordheimer’s decision contains a lengthy discussion of the Superior Court’s jurisdiction to review the OSA’s decision. The test, as set out by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Setia v. Appleby College, can be found here.
After holding that the Superior Court had jurisdiction to review the matter, and finding that the OSA “reached a conclusion that finds no foundation in the evidence that was before it” and that the OSA “has acted arbitrarily, and unfairly, changed the result of a match and has done so for no apparently legitimate reason”, Justice Nordheimer restored the 2-1 semi-final verdict in favour of the Cobras.
Since the final had already been played, and won, by the Strikers, Justice Nordheimer awarded the Ontario Cup championship and a berth in the National Cup to the Cobras, noting that the Cobras “properly stand in the shoes of the Strikers”.