With the best referee of Africa award now scrapped by Caf, Gambian Papa Gassama who won it three times will now stand as the eternal holder of the accolade. Gassama brought honour to the Gambia by grabbing all awards three years in a row making him an established elite referee on the continent. The Gambian was also shortlisted among five others for this year’s award before Caf scrapped it from the list. A Gambian official who spoke to The Standard said Papa Gassama will go down history as the eternal reigning Caf best referee unless the accolade is restored and someone else wins it. That is another first for the Gambia, not sure, he said.
Meanwhile Caf has explained why it stopped the referees award as well as the home based players award. Caf removed both accolades last month after 10 footballers and six referees had originally been shortlisted for the awards. On the eve of the ceremony in Accra, Ahmad insisted both categories were dropped to promote strong competition and avoid corruption. “It’s very simple, we want to promote African football,” Ahmad said about the Africa-based player of the year category. “There’s no two levels of football in Africa. Best is best, not best for the bad or best for the best. That’s the reason. “The Best player in Africa is the young player. If you want to go up, don’t stay down. Don’t sit down,” said Ahmad. On the referee’s award, Ahmed explained to reporters why that prize has also been scrapped. “The referees already have their own awards by being recognised for high profile games. “Based on the locations of the referee, they’re rewarded with – say for example – the champions league quarterfinals and subsequent games. “Another argument is that it is unethical. The committee believes that by giving referees awards, it may lead to some corruption at a latter stage.”