The federal prosecutor’s office has appealed against the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of Professional Football to acquit Francis Vrancken. The chairman of Beerschot was acquitted two weeks ago for his accusations against referee Nathan Verboomen after the lost city derby, but the federal prosecutor’s office does not agree with that. It is not clear when the appeal will be heard.
The facts: on March 6, several controversial decisions were made in the derby between Antwerp and Beerschot. Beerschot eventually lost 2-1 to Antwerp and saw ref Nathan Verboomen as the main culprit. “Apparently he (Verboomen, ed.) works for a company (6D Sports Nutrition, ed.) whose client is football club Antwerp. I find that remarkable. It creates a hint of a conflict of interest and has scared us about the integrity of race management. Certainly in view of the course of the match: the penalty kick that was not called, the red card and the disallowed goal have contributed to the decisive fold in this match,” said chairman Francis Vranken. The federal prosecutor’s office then decided to prosecute Vrancken for “unfounded statements, which erroneously called into question the integrity of the referee publicly”. He faced a three-month stadium ban and a fine.
However, the Disciplinary Committee of Professional Football did not agree. It was of the opinion that Vrancken had not infringed the federation regulations or the FIFA disciplinary code. It ruled that Vrancken invoked the right to freedom of expression, without insulting the referee, match management or the football association. The charged facts were therefore insufficiently proven and Vrancken was acquitted. Two weeks later, it appears that the federal prosecutor’s office does not agree with that ruling and is appealing. It is not yet clear when that appeal will be heard.