Is Gambia football heading for another normalisation?

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The National Sports Council announcing yesterday that it has suspended Gambia Football Federation President Lamin Kabba Bajo, his second vice president Ebou Faye and Ex-Co Member Bakary Jammeh raises another question: Is Gambian football heading for another normalisation?

The NSC announced its decision to suspend the top GFF officials with immediate effect barely days before the FA is due to hold its congress.

The council in a release signed by its executive secretary, Marcel Mendy, and copied to the secretary general and head of Civil Services, secretary general of Confederation of African Football (CAF),  Inspector General of Police, permanent secretary Ministry of Youths and Sports and other relevant stakeholders said the decision was reached following the instruction and recommendation of the National Assembly Select Committee on Youths and Sports on the outcome of the investigation into alleged tax fraud involving the officials of The GFF and legal advice from Ministry of Justice, pursuant to Section 16 of the National Council Act 2000.

The suspension seems dangerous a course undertaken taking into account what we had experienced in a similar move few years ago.

It could be recalled that in 2012, Fifa warned The Gambia that it faces “severe sanctions” after the government dissolved the country’s football association (GFA).

Fifa wrote to the then GFA, insisting it has not “recognised and/or condoned” the government’s decision.

“In particular, no governmental instituted ‘interim committee’ would be recognised and/or dealt with by Fifa,” the governing body of football said at the time.

Fifa went on to underline that any action taken against the then GFA’s executive committee would constitute a clear governmental interference and therefore infringe the Fifa Statutes which could lead to severe sanctions.

The news followed then Ministry of Youth and Sports appointment of an interim committee to oversee the country’s football for the next 12 months.

We know that in football, the FIFA emergency panel can suspend countries from world football if it finds out that a particular government has interfered.

During those trial moments, Fifa had warned that any action taken against then GFA’s executive committee would constitute a clear governmental interference and therefore infringe the Fifa Statutes which could lead to severe sanctions.

Suspension from world football prevents teams and officials, at national and club level, from taking part in international matches and meetings and Fifa also cuts off its funding and grants.

In July 2014, the FIFA Emergency Committee decided to appoint a Normalisation Committee in accordance with article 7 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes and to authorise the FIFA administration to identify five persons to form such committee in order to solve the problems faced by the Gambia Football Federation (GFF).

The Normalisation Committee was in charge of organising the election of a new GFF board.

The appointment of the Normalisation Committee follows the decision taken by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on 30 April 2014 to suspend GFF for two years from all CAF competitions.

CAF took the said decision after it was found that the GFF had fielded five over-aged players during a game against Liberia in the CAF U-20 Championship qualifiers.

In addition, CAF enquired about one of the players and it was found that he had been previously registered with a different date of birth.

So where does the decision of the NSC to suspend 3 GFF top official leave Gambian football?

Are we heading for another normalization era? 

“Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.  ”

Vince Lombardi