The Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (SJAG) is furious over what its members described as unpleasant restrictions they encountered while covering the last match of the league where champions Fortune FC was coronated. The GFF though have denied putting any restrictions on access by journalists.
The secretary general of the SJAG, Alieu Ceesay last night issued the following statement over the matter: “The SJAG has received reports that our members were barred from accessing the main bowl of the Stadium as Fortune FC was being crowned champions of the 2020/2021 league on Sunday.
Our members claimed that security stopped them from accessing the pitch to conduct interviews after the game allegedly on the orders of Bakary B Baldeh, Communication Officer at the GFF.
Concerned by the unfortunate incident, the SJAG, through our Secretary General Alieu Ceesay, reached out to Bakary B Baldeh for clarifications. Mr Baldeh denied giving directives to anyone to prevent journalists from accessing the main bowl.
Baldeh further explained: “In fact this incident happened at a time when I was conducting a celebration interview with Coach Jane Joof of Fortune FC on the pitch.” According to Baldeh he was shocked and surprised by claims that he gave such a directive as that could only have come from the organizing committee. He maintained that none of the journalists was barred from accessing the stadium to cover and report on the game.
He opined that the decision to prevent people, not just journalists, from accessing the pitch while the coronation was ongoing, at the end of the game, was perhaps to ensure a well-organised event and to avoid people invading and disrupting the decoration.
Moving forward, the SJAG calls for proper and better organisation and communication. We hereby express solidarity with our members over the unfortunate incident and which to emphasize that journalists are important stakeholders in promoting the game and as such they must never be restricted in the execution of their duties. The League is what it is today because of the media. The Executive will continue to engage The Gambia Football Federation to avoid a recurrence of this incident which is regrettable and unacceptable”.