The Gambia national team’s journey to the Afcon has been delayed with the chartered plane carrying the players forced to make a diversion back to Banjul nine minutes into the air.
A source among the passengers said the crew reported a lack of oxygen in the plane.
No further details about the technical fault were given and the entire delegation disembarked safely and returned to their Ocean Bay Hotel camp. Our source said they are now waiting for officials to arrange another flight. However, unconfirmed reports emerged suggesting that some passengers lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen.
An official statement from GFF last night assured that everyone is fine and that there are efforts to fly the team to Ivory Coast as soon as possible.
Gov’t pays D38M bonus
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has issued a statement explaining the fiasco about the players’ protest over unpaid dues.
The statement reads: “The Ministry wishes to inform the general public that following the unfortunate disagreement between the national team players and the Gambia Football Federation (GFF), resulting in the team not showing up for training at the Stadium yesterday, President Adama Barrow, after consultation with the Minister of Finance has given directives for the payment of the said amount.
The Ministry through the NCC has earlier on Wednesday paid the D38 million cheque to the Team Manager for distribution among the players, coach and technical staff.
While the Ministry regrets the unfortunate episode, we wish to state that, qualification bonus was not arranged by the Ministry, neither included by GFF in the Afcon budget submitted due to the team’s captain request that they would prefer Diplomatic passport over monetary compensation for qualifying- a request that was granted by President Barrow. It was therefore surprising, that after government agreeing to increase by 100% the Afcon camping allowance to €5000.00 per player and €2500.00 for technical staff and between €5000.00 to €10,000.00 for every match winning bonus, the team insisted on an economically unsustainable demands that the Ministry wasn’t privy to.
Nonetheless, having settled this unanticipated cost, and going into Afcon, the Ministry hopes the team will focus on the matches ahead and display respectful performance as known of them, with a view to building on the success of last Afcon.
While we call on the nation to continue to rally their support to the Scorpions as we wish them best of luck, we reiterate the government’s commitment to go beyond limits to support players’ needs and Sports development in general”.
However, Omar Colley, the captain of the national team, said the qualification bonus was agreed with the GFF since March 2023 and as recent as last month during the training camp in Saudi Arabia, the matter was raised with the representative of the ministry in the delegation. The captain said his conversation with the president did not mention qualification bonus because that is different and already in an agreement with the GFF. He apologised to the fans for boycotting the farewell training session on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinating Committee has said it will refund the fans who paid to watch the farewell training that never took place.