Rugby chief pulled plug, P.M. reveals

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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A DAY TO REMEMBER: The All Blacks visit was arguably the biggest event in Samoa last year. Photo: File.

A DAY TO REMEMBER: The All Blacks visit was arguably the biggest event in Samoa last year. Photo: File.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Rugby Union, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, pulled the plug on Digicel’s network during the historical match between the Manu Samoa and the All Blacks.

So revealed the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U), Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, breaking his silence over the dispute between Digicel, S.R.U and Bluesky.

“There was an agreement between the S.R.U and Bluesky for their machines to be set up and used during the game as part of a sponsorship deal,” Tuilaepa told the Sunday Samoan.

According to the Prime Minister, Digicel had “come after this agreement had been put in place. 

“So Digicel took the back road and contacted Samoa Sports Facilities Authority (S.S.F.A), the body responsible for all the sports fields. 

“Keep in mind that S.S.F.A shouldn’t have done that because the S.R.U had all the rights to the field for this game.” 

For S.S.F.A, Tuilaepa said they saw an opportunity “to gain a little something.” 

That allowed Digicel into Apia Park, he said.

“The S.R.U and Bluesky were surprised to see their (Digicel) machines there. So the S.R.U C.E.O turned them off and that’s why there is a dispute.

“It was only turned off for two hours. It is such a minor thing.  

Last month, the Office of the Regulator ordered Bluesky and the Samoa Rugby Union to apologise to Digicel for the incident.

 In a press statement, the Regulator said : “The Regulator has completed its investigation into Digicel’s complaint against Bluesky Samoa Limited and Samoa Rugby Union (“SRU”) regarding the incident that occurred at Apia Park on 8 July 2015 during the Manu Samoa vs All Blacks match; relative to sections 28 and 74 (1) (i) of the Telecommunications Act 2005.

“The extensive investigation resulted in the issuing of Determination and Order of the Regulator No. 2015/T07 which in essence sets out the following remedies:

a) Bluesky and S.R.U shall publish an apology in Samoan and English print in the Savali and one other newspaper, no later than seven (7) days from the effective date of the Regulator’s Order. 

b) Bluesky and S.R.U shall provide a formal and written undertaking to the Regulator to the effect that both parties will not engage in anti-competitive practice and/or conduct to avoid recurrence in the future of infringements such as that which took place at Apia Park on 8 July 2015. This undertaking must be provided to the Regulator no later than fourteen (14) days from the effective date of the Regulator’s Order. 

“The Regulator will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that all parties comply with the Order.”

Asked if he believes that there is no reason for S.R.U to apologise, Tuilaepa said: “I’m not saying that there is no reason (to apologise), I’m saying there is no reason why this should have ended up in a dispute. There is no reason whatsoever. It’s such an insignificant issue.” 

It could not be confirmed whether S.R.U and Bluesky have apologized yet.

But Digicel has not ruled out legal action.

Last month, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Rory Condon, told the Sunday Samoan that while they welcome the Regulator’s decision, Digicel is considering other options.

 “While the Regulator considers whether to refer this matter to police or the Attorney-General to prosecute further, Digicel is also now reviewing its options, which may include legal action against Bluesky for the damage it has caused.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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