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Sunday, September 27, 2020

CLUB REPS TAKE ISSUE WITH FIFA

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Representatives of clubs calling themselves stakeholders have taken issues with Fifa over the dissolution of the Gambia Football Federation, GFF. The stakeholders also urged the world football governing body to repeal the decision and allow the current GFF board to continue in office until the July 19 AGM when they will face a confidence vote as directed by Fifa itself.

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In a letter addressed to Fifa and copied to the press, the stakeholders expressed shock and dismay at the news of the dissolution of the GFF by Fifa and the appointment of a normalisation committee arguing that the reason given by Fifa does not truly reflect on the current state of affairs in the country’s football. The letter then went to address several items on the whole football saga involving the under-20 as well as explain their version of the state of football in The Gambia. Read the full letter below.

 

 Stakeholder’s letter to Fifa

We the undersigned members of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), received with great shock and dismay the news of the appointment of a normalisation committee of five members by Fifa Emergency Committee that will run the affairs of GFF and organise elections by 15 September 2014 latest, barely less than two weeks before the GFF Annual General Meeting and Extra-ordinary Meeting required to subject the GFF board to a confidence vote or otherwise.

In your letter addressed to the GFF president, we were able to deduce that this decision has been reached on the basis of the situation of the GFF following the events that led to the suspension of the GFF by CAF from its competitions for two years.

In view of the above, we are with the conviction that what appeared to Fifa as the situation of the GFF, as a result of the under-20 suspension saga, does not truly reflect the current situation of the GFF that warranted the appointment of a normalisation committee. 

In this regard, as the key stakeholders in Gambian football, we deemed it necessary to clarify issues highlighted in your letter that might have agitated Fifa to act so swiftly on our young and dynamic executive committee that is hailed as the best ever in the history of Gambian football, for the purpose of averting any set back to the growing momentum of football development in The Gambia. In addition, it will also be important we bring to your attention other developments that are relevant to the subject.

(1)  Fielding of over-aged players by GFF

We keenly noted that the action of the GFF was not deliberate but rather occurred as a result of the administrative negligence of the former acting secretary general of the GFF and now the deputy executive director National Sports Council (NSC) whom for reasons best known to him, failed to make available to GFF, the CAF circular that mentioned the legibility of players in the CAF U-20 competitions while the GFF relied on the existing CAF rules and regulations.

(2) A player who registered with two different dates of birth under CAF

On that, we were able to gather that the said player was one Ali Sowe (a player of Gamtel FC) in the 2012 CAF Orange Confederation Cup Competition. Gamtel FC submitted its list to the GFA secretariat for registration for the said competition with the date of birth 14th June 1994 as Ali Sowe’s date of Birth. In filling the CAF registration form, the GFF secretariat mistakenly entered the date of birth of a player preceding Ali Sowe in the Gamtel F.C list. The GFF blamed its secretariat for the administrative data error but not CAF.                                                                                        However, we have noted that this incident happened during the normalization period in 2012.

(3) Two GFF vice presidents allegedly publicly blamed the previous board of the GFF

By the last paragraph of 2 above, the former GFF board cannot be excused of any blame.

(4) Some members of GFF had not attended the interviews with the authorities who were trying to gain an understanding of the event

The authorities herein referred to the Tasked Force Committee set by the NSC to investigate the matters surrounding the disqualification of The Gambia from the CAF U- 20 Competitions. The task force comprises members only from the NSC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS). The GFF questioned the credibility of the task force based on its composition:

(i)Mr Malang Jassy – the then DPS of sports (MoYS).

(ii) Mr Lamin King Colley – Chairman NSC and former 2nd vice president GFA.

(iii) Mr Pa Suwareh Faye – Deputy Director Planning (MoYS).

(iv) Mr Marcel Mendy – Deputy Executive Director NSC and former acting Secretary General GFF.

(v) Mr Ebou Faye – General manager Independence Stadium and Friendship Hotel and the former secretary general appointed by the normalisation committee but the GFF terminated his appointment.

Based on the composition, the GFF questioned the credibility of the task force and requested thorough investigation by a competent and credible body led by the police with a view to provide explicit recommendations geared towards ensuring that decisive actions are taken against people who are found wanting in the saga this was welcomed by the police but not considered by the NSC.

The task force committee invited twelve people for questioning, two of whom were task force members, namely Malang Jassy and Marcel Mendy, eight were GFF members namely Kebba Touray the 2nd vice president GFF, Ismaila Njie accountant GFF, Abass Bah Secretary General GFF, Ebrima Manneh Technical Director GFF, Victoria Roberts Administrative Assistant Secretary, Baboucarr Jobe Administrative Secretary, Peter Bonu Johnson the Senior National Team Coach and Saikou Bah the team manager under-20. Only Johnson and Bah failed to honour the invitation.                                                                                                                                                   

(5)The GFF denied any wrongdoing with regard to the registration of a player with two different dates of birth.

The GFF did not cast blame on CAF but rather its secretariat for the administrative data entry error.

(6)The emergency committee took note of the considerable level of disappointment and shame expressed by the broad sections of the Gambian society and the Gambian authorities while the GFF embarked on new development programmes.

The fact of the matter is, initially the population was carried away by the strong media release from the MoYS and the report of the task force committee of NSC against the GFF but as soon as the GFF and its members clarified issues it was a complete mass support for GFF. This was manifested by the positive contributions in radio and television programmes and the numerous visitors that stormed the premises of the police headquarters on daily bases throughout the day during the course of their detention. Furthermore, the release and reinstatement of the GFF leaders was highly welcome by the vast population of The Gambia and the authorities as well. 

(7) Complaint of a dozen of GFF members that they no longer trusted the current GFF board.

This is news to GFF, its members and the population at large as there was no media publication for that. If it is a genuine course, why should one move behind the scene in presenting such a petition to Fifa? We would be very much disappointed if Fifa that has been hailed for its democratic values can consider the position of a minority group over that of the majority. Besides Fifa advised for an extra ordinary meeting on confidence vote which the NSC and GFF agreed to on the 19th July 2014 as the date for the holding of the extra ordinary session. This is captured in a document signed by both parties. The notice of which has been served to members. 

(8)……it deemed the current board to have lost confidence of several important stakeholders, including the Gambian authorities…….

With due respect be rest assured that the vast majority of Gambians, important stakeholders and the Gambian authorities have high confidence and trust for the current GFF and any move to remove them in this current circumstance will be a disaster to Gambian football.

We believed that the release of the GFF and their subsequent reinstatement meant that the authorities have no case against them and a reaffirmation of the trust in them. We believed that that was why the minister and the NSC engaged the GFF and that resulted to a joint press conference organised by the NSC and GFF on lifting the suspension for the way forward that both parties will work towards ensuring that the CAF suspension is lifted on The Gambia. We believed it was in this spirit that they both travelled to Brazil.

(9) The Fifa Performance Assessment Team  

It could be recalled that the Fifa performance team that visited The Gambia sometimes back, rated the GFF as number one in terms of performance and management out of the 43 countries in Africa that they have visited. This was on both print and electronic media in The Gambia. 

At this point, we wish to sincerely and honestly submit that we the undersigned members of the GFF have the trust and confidence in the current GFF BOARD and believed that the vast majority of Gambian people and authorities have the trust and confidence in the Mustapha Kebbeh led board.

In the light of the above, in view of the democratic principles of Fifa, we hereby appeal to Fifa to reconsider its decision in appointing a normalization committee and allow the current board to continue holding its AGM and extra ordinary meeting where the members will freely decide their fates.

In anticipation of your kind consideration of our request, please accept the assurance of our best regards and highest esteem. 

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