Gambians have reacted with dismay to the incessant unjust attack and even threats on top African referee Bakary Papa Gassama who officiated the last leg of a world cup play-off won by Cameroon over Algeria.
Apparently a section of the Algerian press and football authorities led by Coach Djamel Belmadi have now taken the affair too far even threatening the referee. As the continent wait to see how Caf will deal with such a threat, Gambians have meanwhile showed solidarity with Gassama with hundreds busy on social media posting and lambasting the Algerian coach over his rude remarks.
A few concern people included the Gambia Football Federation presidential aspirant Sadibou Kamaso and Sports Journalists’ Association president Musa Sise.
Kamaso urged the Algerians to stop threatening Gassama and focus on their jobs.
“The recent remarks against Papa by a selection of the Algerian football fans, enthusiasts and some stakeholders are manifestly unjust and unacceptable. The Algerians should just focus on their jobs,” Kamaso said.
He continued: “You cannot tarnish the image of a man who continues to cement his status as a top referee internationally. This is a man whose achievements are a symbol of unity, pride and inspiration to many young Gambians. My team and I are hugely proud of his current position and we shall continue to render our unflinching support to his career.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia Musa Sise described the Algeria coach as a cry baby.
He explained: “The rhetoric being spewed by the head-coach of the Algerian national team Djamel Belmadi against Bakary Papa Gassama demonstrates the bigot Belmadi is, and all those who want to believe his myopic stance. The Algerian coach must learn to accept that The Blida stadium is the most hostile place on earth for a foreign team, talk less of the intimidation officials often face there. I only hope the coach is willing to accept some of the ill treatments that have been continuously meted out to Sub-Saharan teams including the Gambia who played there.”
Sise said Coach Belmadi’s assertion that their world cup loss to Cameroon in their own backyard is attributed to Papa’s poor officiating is perhaps the biggest joke ever.
‘These sort of remarks from an authority requires the attention of the African Football Confederation and the world governing body Fifa and the rating agency for Papa’s profession. Even Papa’s elevation and purported shortlisting by Fifa for the Qatar World Cup couldn’t get Belmadi and his folks off the gentleman’s back,” Sise said.
He added that the threats might be empty but the Gambian populace are watching very carefully and at the same time urging all concern to protect Papa Gassama.
“I’ll comfortably say Belmadi’s remarks are racist, threatening and bigotry in nature.
We believe that the best team won and hard luck next time,” the SJAG president said.