The Caf executive committee suspended The Gambia Football Federation from all Caf competitions for two years, for deliberately falsifying players’ ages. This follows the country’s disqualification from the qualifiers for the continent’s Under-20 championship for fielding five overaged players.
Caf then launched an investigation into the case of one of those players, Ali Sowe, born in June 1994. He was found to have registered with Caf in 2012 in the Confederation Cup with an identical passport number but a birth date going back to 1988.
But speaking to journalists on Saturday, on the sidelines of a meeting with a Fifa delegation at the Ocean Bay Hotel, Mustapha Kebbeh said that while entering the names of Gamtel FC players on a Caf online registration form, a staff member at the then Gambia Football Association, mistakenly typed 1988 as the year of birth for Ali Sowe instead of 1994 as shown on his passport.
Kebbeh explained that the new GFF which came to power in July 2013 was not even in power at the time of the error and had never made a new passport for Ali Sowe. “The player’s passport was issued since 2011 and his date of birth is 14 June 1994 not 14 June 1988 as erroneously entered in the Caf form in 20 12.
“This is why we were all baffled by Caf’s ruling on this matter because no one in The Gambia can have the same passport number with different birth years. The boy’s passport number, date of birth and month were all properly filled into the Caf online registration form but the year of birth was erroneously entered into the form as 1998. I want the people of The Gambia to understand that this particular case was a genuine mistake committed by a staff at GFA at a time when we had not even come to power. It is just that the unfortunate error was discovered during our time, and the timing too so unlucky for The Gambia, in the wake of the Under-20 disqualification,” Kebbeh said.
Asked what he intended to do to save at least the senior team from suspension, Kebbeh said: “This is the time that all Gambians need to unite under one platform and put our case as a nation because we very strongly felt that the Scorpions can be saved if all hands are on deck.
“As a start we have appealed the decision, highlighting the circumstances I have just indicated. Now we shall get Immigration Department to ascertain that the boy never got two passports with the same number, and then we shall involve the Minister of Youth and Sports to join us in the quest to let Caf understand that this case is a misconception. This is the time Gambians need one another in a patriotic effort,” he concluded.
By Lamin Cham]]>