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Friday, September 22, 2023

Ex-GFF boss speaks


Addressing, a media conference at the Serekunda East Park, former president Mustapha Kebbeh said the briefing was called not to put up a challenge to the current process in our football but to present facts and matters as they progress.

Mr Kebbeh said the sudden decision by Fifa to remove his regime was said to have been based on three matters.

First, a broader spectrum of the Gambian population expressing disappointment with the GFF as well as the government and some dozen stakeholders who wrote to Fifa saying they had lost confidence in his regime.

Kebbeh said: “We are baffled by that because the majority of the Gambian stakeholders, far more than these dozen stakeholders, have all maintained they have confidence in us. Besides none of these dozen stakeholders have ever written to us to say they had lost confidence in us,” he said.

When The Standard asked if it was not true that a wider spectrum of the Gambian population had expressed disappointment with the GFF over the Caf suspensions, Kebbeh said he believed that such a verdict could only be better established if some survey had been conducted to gauge the people’s mood on the matter.

Further expounding on this, Alhagie Darboe of Brilkama United, said they had made it clear to Fifa that the initial level of anger by the public was due to the way the National Sports Council projected the issue but once the GFF explained its position, many of those early reactions faded away as was reflected in radio talk shows. 

Again when The Standard suggested that both Fifa and Caf could be among the stakeholders being referred to by Fifa in its July 10 release but the high table and members of the audience, rejected that. 

Also challenged to comment on the fact that the allegations of age-cheating – whether or not in their time – have damaged the international reputation of the ousted GFF executive, Kebbeh again refuted that maintaining that there was more to it than that. “We have engaged Caf on this extensively in Brazil. Even presenting Ali Sowe’s passport which indicated clearly that no one had made a new document for him. Yes, we were made to understand that The Gambia had been suspected of age-cheating on numerous occasions in the past,” he said.

When asked what he would do when he is not allowed to contest, Kebbeh refused to be drawn into  a hypothetical argument saying that he believed that the Normalisation Committee is composed of credible and genuine people who would do their job according to their mandate. “I think it is the interest of the country that is important here than any other person or considerations,” he said.  

He stressed that as far as correspondences from Fifa on the elections was concerned, anyone could contest. When asked to produce such a correspondence he referred the audience to a recent Fifa response to stakeholders: “A new electoral process is about to start and it will be open to whoever complies with the statutory requirements.”

Also speaking at the press conference, former first vice president Buba Janneh informed the audience that his team had inherited a federation which was in dire financial straits but within the past year, they had managed to install a discipline in the financial management of the GFF, which enabled them to start paying off debts, pay staff salaries on time as well as social security contributions. Janneh said they had generally left a better GFF than they inherited.

Contacted for comments on the former GFF leadership’s statement, Normalisation Committee spokesman Musa Sise said the NC would provide reactions to issues as and when they are relevant and necessary.


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