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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Deduction of points against TMT FC severe and illegal

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By Pa Louis Thomasi

The deduction of points in the history of football is as old as the introduction of the nets behind the goal posts. This is nothing new. It is actually seen as a disciplinary measure that is aimed at curtailing certain acts that have some form of criminal connectivity that breaches the laws that govern the beautiful game and subject the notion of “fair play” to disrepute. Article 30 of the Fifa disciplinary code actually made mentioned of points deduction.

However, points deduction in football has often been attributed to certain “misconducts” that puts the game into disrepute and not the football associations or federations per se. Such misconducts often navigate around the fielding of ineligible players, failing to fulfill fixture obligations, and most especially financial irregularities and match-fixing, as had happened in the famous Calciopoli saga in Italy. Nowhere in football history has a deserving team been deducted 10 points due to an alleged statement made against its football association or federation. It is simply unheard of.

The Gambia Football Federation disciplinary committee’s decision therefore to deduct 10 points from TMT FC, a team that had done tremendously well and deserves every point they earned on the field in the second division is not only severe, but unwarranted, uncalled for and without doubt illegal since their alleged criticism did not put the game into disrepute under any circumstances but rather “disparage the federation”. The alleged statement posted on the TMT FC Facebook page has nothing to do with the performance of the team on the field neither has it put them at any position of privilege. The illegal points deduction slammed on TMT FC simply does not follow any precedence in football history.

One might therefore be tempted to ask: Is the illegal points deduction slammed by the GFF disciplinary committee on TMT FC the most appropriate way to discipline a football team whose officials have issued a disparaging statement against its football federation? Surely the answer is a definite no. In my honest view, the alleged statement said to be posted by TMT FC on their Facebook page calling the GFF “hustlers masquerading as football authorities in The Gambia” can only be attributed as malicious or defamatory in the worst-case scenario. This has nothing to do with football misconduct and hence cannot constitute anything but a simple fine that takes into consideration the earning capacity of TMT FC. The GFF, if aggrieved, can also file a case in court for defamation against TMT FC if only their rules permit them to take football teams to court based on such allegations, which I doubt very much.

While I have no intention to entertain wide allegations or insults against any person or institution, wild statements or loose cannon statements have always been bad bedfellows with football. How many times have we seen football coaches or club owners “insulting” referees or issuing discriminatory statements against match officials or football federations or even UEFA? Most recently after the UEFA Cup final between Roma and Sevilla (the team of our legendary Biri Biri whose names was echoed throughout the game in the famous Sevilla song) the infamous and outrageous Jose Mourinho, physically rushed on English referee, Anthony Taylor, accusing him of being “too Spanish” and a “disgrace”. Mourinho’s disparaging attacks on Taylor even continued during his post-match news conference. What next? A possible ban against Mourinho for three or four matches, and a possible fine. No points deduction on Roma whatsoever.

The points deduction slammed on TMT FC by the GFF disciplinary committee should therefore be revoked with immediate effect and unconditionally. The GFF disciplinary committee must accept the fact that it has erred in its decision to illegally deduct ten points from a team that is on the verge of being promoted to the first division or already promoted to the first division on merit and not Calciopoli. Such a decision will jeopardise the achievements of the players of the club who have fought with blood, sweat and tears to be where they are today. Such a crude decision will also make the notion of “fair play” meaningless.

To err is human. Crush this harsh and illegal ten points deduction against TMT FC now in the interest of the game and Gambian football.

The author is a former footballer and football historian now based in Dakar working for International Federation of Journalists, IFT.

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