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Club representatives urge GFF to lift ban

Jul 25, 2013, 11:39 AM | Article By: Lamin Cham

With less than week to go before the Gambia Football Federation GFF executive elections, representatives of the seven clubs that nominated Adama Halla Samba, Seedy Kinteh and Mustapha Kebbeh, have written a strongly worded protest note to the Normalization Committee urging it to speedily revoke its decision to ban members of the football family,” to avoid further degeneration of our national association’’.

The protest letter, signed by officials of the seven cubs, also accused The Ministry of Sports of ‘misleading the people of the Gambia to believe that their action to dissolve the former GFA executive committee were genuine.

According to the protesting representatives, the Normalization Committee had since March 2012 embarked on a dis- information campaign to ridicule the dissolved executive committee and its staff. They also vowed never to accept the findings of the Disciplinary Committee in suspending their candidates ‘since the action derails the very essence of the democratic values  we so much cherish in football’’.

Below is the full text of the protest letter.

On the directive of the concerned members of the Gambia Football Federation GFF, please allow us to remind you that on 2, March 2012, the Minster of Youth and Sports dissolved the Executive Committee of the Gambia Football Association after giving some reasons to the Gambia Government which were investigated by the Fraud Squad of the Gambia Police Force and found to be completely fake allegations. As a consequence the Permanent Secretary Mambanyick Njie was arrested and charged in a court of law for giving false information that led to dissolution of the GFA executive committee. Ever since, all the members of the Executive Committee and management staff who were investigated were vindicated by the Fraud Squad and subsequently released.

The lesson learnt from the above saga was that The Ministry of Youth and Sports misled the people of the Gambia in believing that their actions were genuine. We strongly believed that in the first instance our beloved country and its beautiful game should not have been subjected to a Normalization Committee that was set up on very false pretext.

Notwithstanding the above facts, The Normalization Committee embarked on a campaign of misinformation and dis-information to ridicule the dissolved Executive Committee  and its staff. Even with a warning letter from FIFA dated 19 April 2012 addressed to the chairman of the Normalization Committee and the Hon. Minister that they do not have the mandate to check on the usage  of the FIFA funds since these are regularly audited by  ‘an accredited society,’’ the  Normalization Committee is hell bent on tarnishing the image and numerous achievements of the victimized Executive Committee and its staff.

As the main stakeholders of Gambian football our clubs never deserved respect since the advent of this process of normalization. The relevance of our football clubs have been flouted by the heightened tricky of the Normalization Committee that even convinced FIFA and CAF also that there were a lot of issues to rectify thus engendering so many unnecessary extensions to the Normalization Committee.

Therefore, we, the representatives of various clubs, have received the recent information on your press release of July 16, 2013 with utter shock and dismay. To put the records straight, we submitted our nominations of our candidates for the forthcoming GFA Congress in writing to the Acting Secretary General.

On the whole, you did not convey your decisions to either accept or reject our nominations in writing but only to receive the information from a public medium which does not augur well in modern management practices.

After thoroughly scrutinizing your press release, we have collectively drawn some conclusions that have devalued the relevance of the information therein contained.

1.         Our clubs should have had some degree of representation on your “Disciplinary Committee” since they are the major stakeholders to Gambian football. Instead you chose some lawyers whose acumen bears no relevance to football development and promotion.

2.         Natural justice prevails on any good judgment that bears attestation from either side of the divide. But your “Disciplinary Committee” members chose to confer a verdict on officials who were not given a chance to defend themselves.

3.         For any document of relevance particularly one that questions the dignity, integrity and personality of our football officials must bear authentic signatures of the panelists who are tasked with such an obligation. We find it absolutely debasing to accept the authenticity of the verdict from your “Disciplinary Committee”.

4.         The matter of the staff loans should not have been a contentious subject since all institutions give loans and/ or other incentives to motivate their staff for greater productivity. In this case, the Executive Committee acted genuinely and showed no criminal intent. The repayment was against staff salaries up to the time the Normalization Committee illegally terminated the services of t most of the staff. As a consequence, your decisions posted the loans as bad debts in the Association’s books.

5. It is indeed cynical that you failed to honor the audit report of the KPMG, the accredited FIFA audit firm that has audited the GFA accounts and submitted a detailed report to FIFA that did not find the Executive Committee wanting on some of the allegations fused by your Disciplinary Committee in the unwarranted saga. We have since convinced ourselves that you are on the vengeance trail for some reason best known to the vice president of the Normalization Committee.

6. The members of your Disciplinary Committee do not understand the application of a ‘Management Letter’ and acted on it subjectively without relishing a healthy dialogue with the previous management on the various issues highlighted.

Purposely, we reasoned beyond all doubts that the Normalization Committee is embarking on a witch hunt to exempt innocent officials whilst exonerating guilty ones in contesting for the GFA Presidency to the detriment of Gambian football and our national association. Hence we cannot accept the ruling of the Disciplinary Committee, in suspending our candidates as this action derails the very essence of the democratic values we so cherished in football. As a matter of urgency we herein call upon the Normalization Committee to revoke the obsolete decision to avoid further degeneration of the National Association.

Furthermore why should the Normalization Committee accept the nomination of a candidate who resigned as GFA vice president in 2003 in contravention of the GFF constitutional provision? Again the Normalization Committee launched   a campaign for such unqualified candidate with a call to the clubs to vote for him since he is the candidate of the government of the Gambia. Such misleading statements are demeaning to the essence e of Normalization.

As bona fide members of the Gambia Football federation we are resolutely open to take any legal and other measures to ensure that sanity prevails in this process if the Normalization Committee fails to respect the will of the clubs.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Biko FC

Sait Matty  FC

Bakau United- FC

Bombada FC

Talingding United, FC

Wallidan FC

Brikama United FC

Soon after the Point received the petition we contacted the GFF Normalization Committee spokesman Omar Sey who confirmed receiving the letter late last evening.  “Though I have not yet fully gone through it but the acting secretary general did brief me on some of its contents. It virtually repeated the same allegations we had to deal with throughout this process. Honestly for now our preoccupation is to see through these elections next Wednesday as there are a lot of things needed to be done to ensure we complete the process we work so hard to achieve. That notwithstanding if I come across any point in their letter that I wish to clarify I would most definitely do so,’’ Mr Sey concluded.