Mass Axi Gye, a respected veteran international player, coach, sports minister and now leader of first division side Gambia Ports Authority GPA, has spoken about the much talked –about Fifa and Caf Covid -19 funds, totaling over D90million dalasis.
The Gambia Football Federation, GFF, recently began consultations with stakeholders about its disbursement. The GFF says it intends to spend D67million on all stakeholders and D25milliona on female football. However the devil is in the details. Many stakeholders objected to a massive D4million allocated for supposed sitting allowance arrears for subcommittee members. Many more rejected any suggestion to spend any of it on national team matters since the government, whose responsibility it is to fund national teams can now draw a lot of money from the Sports Levy.
Various other stakeholders also queried the GFF’s intention to spend over D11million on infrastructure, asking Football House to explain what happened to all the elaborately packaged projects they said they got pledges for during the 2018 World Cup in Russia among others. The GFF has maintained that its decisions are based on the Fifa regulations governing the fund which make it important for the national association to make prudent steps to ensure the resumption of football as well as extend support to the wider football community. ‘The objective of the GFF plan of the Fifa Covid-19 plan is to ensure the judicious distribution of the Fifa grant to the Gambian football family based on need and in full compliance with Fifa Covid-19 relief plan regulations”, the GFF said in a statement to stakeholders last week.
Asked to give his opinion on the Fund, Mass Axi Gye said: ”In my opinion as a team leader and if my understanding of relief money as stated by Fifa and Caf is anything to go by, this money is not meant to pay loans, buy vehicles or pay arrears. This money is meant to be distributed to the football family equally. Example if your team is 40 people, players and officials together, each of them shall get exactly the same amount to the last butut. I also think that the money is for the people, not for clubs but members of the club. Those are the people who should get the money and they must give it to them equally. There should be nothing like we save this for the team here or buy this here, no. The money is meant for the people to be relieved and it must be given to the people and equally so too. How much each club or entity should have is another story but the money should be used for the purpose as directed by Fifa which is to relieve the football family. Nothing should be left. At my club GPA, that is how we will share it and this is how I expect others to do so. Unless I don’t understand the word relief”.
However, The Standard has been contacted by some other club owners who argued that while Axi’s opinion may be fine, certain aspects of it may not be plausible with other stakeholders. ” While GPA, Gamtel and other institutional teams who have their annual budget from their institutions can afford to share the money at one go, other stakeholders cannot do that . Many clubs are struggling financially with no sponsor. So they must use part of the money to buy materials as well as pay their players and staff. I agree of course that the money belongs to the members of the family and must be given to them in its entirety,” one club official told The Standard.