Maimuna Sidibeh, National Commission for Unesco: All I know is that the coach or whoever did the selection should have put the age limit into consideration first before sending them away. He should have made it his business to know the rules and regulations to the letter.
Abdoulie Nget, Vice president, Gambia Sports Journalists Association: I am surprised that the people (the GFF) responsible are now engaging themselves on a blame game after failing the whole nation. The data of all our players should be in record and to the notice of the football officials. The disqualification of the U-20 and the suspension of The Gambia from all Caf competitions for two years has set a big question mark on their competence. I think the whole Gambia should call for their resignation, which they are not willing to do. You see Sandro Rossel of Barcelona resigned after a controversy over the signing of Neymar and others, but in our case, it will be different. Instead of them resigning and paving the way for a new team to lead for good, they will rather remain to mislead football.
Olufemi Peters, Gambian Chelsea fan in UK: Yes. The Gambia needs to give up on football and concentrate on wrestling. We need to get it to the level of the Senegalese. This ban could be a blessing in disguise if utilised this way. We could use this ban in a positive way to breathe life into wrestling which is practically a dying sport in The Gambia. Let’s face it, we have been playing football for years but we are not considered a footballing nation like say Nigeria or even our neighbors Senegal. It is time to gave wrestling a chance.
Madi Jobarteh, Deputy Director of Tango: The decision is harsh and I am not sure if Caf had adequately engaged GFF or vice versa, but it appears that didn’t happen given the suspension. I said this because I do not think GFF could deliberately field in ineligible players yet think that it would not be detected. But the fact that it had indeed happened then one need to hold GFF to account and in any case they have really misconducted themselves. But also I do not think it is a right decision to disband the executive. The National Sports Council (NSC) or the Ministry of Sports could ask them to resign but if they refuse, the government must show them its total displeasure. But further to investigate and take legal action against whoever took the decision and also against the player himself. But such action must be in consultation with Caf so as to avoid a more severe penalty!
Ebrima Jadama, Bakau Bantaba: “Our biggest disappointment was when the national team got suspended due to Under-17 blunder that means we didn’t have the capable and right people representing us. Another blow is we didn’t have a capable coach for the national team who can take us forward. We are very disappointed by the NSC for appointing Bonu Johnson for one year again as a national coach. I think they should look into that and see whether they are failing us or the GFF is failing us.
Batch Sowe, Gambian student in Ghana: Being suspended for two years from all Caf competitions is a big setback for Gambian football. And it also stains the good image of The Gambia for engaging in cases of fraud, of practices violating ethics and morality in football. It will indisputably transcend to a setback to build up a strong national senior team for our country. Secondly, the players will also lose a chance of surfacing in international competitions. In monetary term, both players and the country might stand to lose a chance of winning trophies and playing for international clubs
Alagi Jinkang, Gambian in Italy: It was injustice on the part of GFF and it has gained them what they try to deviate from. Thus it is also a collective failure in my opinion. The youths and sports sector in our country continues to be surrounded with mistrust, fraud and intervention from the government. The GFF leadership was never elected through a due and clear process.
Nuha Bojang, Fajara: It is a national embarrassment. The GFF executive should have done their homework to avert such. Because of their negligence, Caf was forced to properly scrutinise their activities. Obviously, they found the whole process of registering players from The Gambia was bogus and fraudulent. They should immediately resign to safe face.
Muhammad Ndure, UTG, GPU School of Journalism: I am definitely sad to hear the news. I take it as a big blow to the youths who are dedicating their careers to football. But I think it’s a good lesson that we learned from this if it is correct that we are habitual age-cheaters…. as it is popularly understood that Gambians do not lay the right age category for the national teams, and I hope the GFF will use the suspension period to regularise national football, put their house in order and prepare a new team that will challenge afterwards.
Lamin Banja, Kotu: As a football fan, I was quite disappointed when I heard the news that The Gambia has been suspended from all Caf competitions. I think the development did not augur well for our football. It comes at a time when there is high expectations that The Gambia was going to improve forever. So the suspension has dashed the hopes of so many Gambians as far as football is concerned. We can use this moment to advance our football. For example, now that the country has been suspended, why not use these two years to put football administration on the right track and develop grassroots football.
Lamin Drammeh, Gambian in US: This is the most critical moment in Gambian football but are we sincere enough to stop the blame game? Are we not united enough to stand together and fight for our suspension from Caf? Look, this is the moment we need each other now than ever before since it is a national dilemma. I got a strong conviction that putting gun on each other’s neck is only adding fuel to fire and we all know the negative effects witch-hunting has caused and continues to cause our beautiful football. I am urging all stakeholders to help the GFA in their pursuit of successfully negotiating Caf’s decision since it is too harsh. Together we can do it. Let us fight collectively to bring back our lost image at the continental stage. Afterwards, we can come together and take any action that has to be taken. They need our support but forming a small group of individuals targeting certain people in the name of so-called responsibilities is absurd. Let us stop the blame game and fight for what belong to us as one Gambia.
Sam Touray, New Jeshwang: Caf should investigate the matter properly with a view to resolving it in the best interest of football. The Ministry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration with the NSC should engage the executive members of GFF in a progressive and realistic manner. The panel set up by the NSC to probe the matter lacks the moral authority to do so as some of them either received the circular from Caf or have seen the list of players that The Gambia took to Liberia. Furthermore, the NSC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports should have ensured that GFF recruit players that are not overaged. GFF should ensure that they stick to the rules set aside by international organisations.
Talibeh Hydara, Poet: Caf should have taken a little more time before pouncing on us like a hawk. Yes, a few of our players are overaged but this blanket punishment will seriously affect our already-weakened efforts to take part in international competitions. However, GFF or whoever was responsible when the error was made, should know that this legacy will haunt them wherever they are. I am deeply saddened because these championships serve as springboard for young talents to be scouted by European clubs. For the national Scorpions, let this be a chance for the coaches to redesign the team and look for fresh bloods so that by the time the ban is lifted, there would already be a complete team to resume competitions.
Alieu Darboe, former national Under-20 player: I really don’t have too much to say. It is just sad. It is sad because if you look at our ranking, countries like Burundi and Grenada are ahead of us. Now without playing games for two years, we will be in the very bottom ranking. This is really sad. I feel very sorry for our fans, they deserve better.
Musa Barrow, Manjai: The suspension of The Gambia from all Caf competitions could not have come at a worse time. Remember, this GFF executive has been in office less than a year. And when they were assuming office, there was high expectation that The Gambia’s football was not only going to be put on the right track, but that our football development was going to be accelerated. It is so unfortunate that at this crucial moment of football development, the country has been hit by a suspension. To usher in a new era, the blame game has to stop and those put in charge of football must live up to expectation. It is my opinion that the GFF made an error of judgement which proves costly. But dissolving it is not the solution.
Alieu Ceesay, Sports reporter, Daily Observer: It is really unfortunate and sad to see The Gambia going under such trying moments in our football development. I hope this could have been avoided if the football administrators did their homework properly. Now that The Gambia is suspended from all Caf competitions, I think it is high time that we go back to grassroots level and tap the talents there. Honestly, sometimes I wonder how comes a first division player is said to be Under-17. But again we need to come together under one umbrella and map out a way forward for our football development. And I hope the GFF will learn a big lesson from this mistake.
Ahmed Carayol, Bakoteh: This is a lesson for The Gambia. Why cheat? Our officials should play the game of football according to the rules. This is a lesson for The Gambia.
Baboucarr Sey, Sports journalist, Kora FM: Some people need to go, though not necessarily the entire GFF executive and secretariat staff. GFF gave lots of inconsistent statements – from the circular to assuming office date. So who will believe that they didn’t see or know about that “Caf circular”? To restore trust and credibility, some top officials need to step down or be forced to step down in order to restore credibility and gain public trust again.
Ousman Marong, Serekunda: It is the GFF who are to blame. How come they did not see the Caf circular constitution when it was circulated to almost all the media houses? If what they say is true, that they did not see the circular, how come the media houses publicised it? And besides, how do you go for a competition without knowing and asking for the rules and regulations? And about dissolving the GFF, I am not in for it because it will take us back to normalisation again… and as we normalise, others are going ahead of us. If we want our sports to develop, let us go back to the grassroots level.
Compiled by Sanna Camara and Abdoulie Nget]]>