The National league Clubs and Regions have protested bitterly against the decision of the National Sports Council (NSC) to suspend the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) Executive Members for three months following The Gambia’s suspension from all CAF competitions for two years by the continent’s football governing body CAF after fielding in five over-aged players during their 2015 Africa U-20 championship qualifiers first leg tie away to Liberia on 6 April 2014 in Monrovia.
Signed by 22 representatives of clubs and associations, the letter is copied to the Secretaries Generals of FIFA, CAF and GFF, the Permanent Secretaries of MoYS and Interior Ministry, Inspector General of Police, Director General NIA, National Assembly Select Committee on Sports, All Executive and Affiliated Members of GFF.
The suspended GFF executives are president Mustapha Kebbeh, first-vice president Buba Star Janneh, second-vice president Kebba K. Touray and third-vice president Basirou Bajo.
Gambia beat Liberia 1-0 in the first leg tie of the preliminaries of the Africa U-20 Youth Championship qualifiers courtesy of Senegalese premier league outfit Cassa Sport striker Bakary Daffeh in the 35th minutes of the game and Liberia protested against The Gambia for using five over-aged players, namely Buba Sanneh, Bubacarr Sanyang, Bubacarr Trawally, Ali Sowe, Saloum Faal and Sampierre Mendy.
CAF launched an investigation into the matter and found out that The Gambia had used five over-aged players during their 2015 Africa U-20 Youth Championship qualifiers against Liberia on 6 April 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia, for which the country has been suspended from all CAF Competitions for two years.
In the wake of the continued and constant refusal to adhere to the directives of the NSC, it has decided to suspend the GFF Executive members under section 18.1 and 18.2 of the National Sports Council Act 2000 with immediately effect.
It is important to note that 18.1 (a) of the NSC Act 2000 which NSC used as the legal basis in suspending the GFF leadership and the council considered that any registered National Sports Association has ceased to operate as a national Sports Association the council may, after affording the National Sports Association concerned, an opportunity of making representation on the matter, suspend, ban or expel all any of it officers from holding office in any association registered under this act”.
The acts of the GFF or its executive in this case do not make GFF a national Sports Association that ceased to operate and it is evident that the GFF has not ceased to operate as a National Sports Association.
The GFF is the number one National Sports Association in The Gambia that has the national character and operate at both national and regional levels and this could be attested to by the ongoing leagues - National and Regional.
The GFF has an established and functional Secretariat where Executive members frequently visit and meet and based on these facts highlighted above, it is incorrect to suspend GFF Executive members under section 18.1 (a) thus, the decision is baseless and unjustified.
Whereas the application of section 18.1(a) has proven to be incorrect in this case; therefore the application of section 18.2 (a) is not feasible as well and it reads: “Where the council has taken any action referred to in sub-section (1), the Secretary of State may, on the recommendation of the council, appoint a committee to administer the affairs of the association concerned”.
Therefore the move to enforce section 18.2 in this case lacks both moral and legal support.
Gambia Football Federation Statutes
As far as we the members of GFF are concerned, there is no crisis in GFF that put our status at halt and in this regard, the National Sports Council is expected to respect and recognize the GFF statutes in resolving matters of GFF.
In the wake of the prevailing circumstances under the statutes of the GFF, it is the General Assembly and the Executive that have the mandate to suspend a member or official (Sub-sections 16.1 and 16.2 of GFF statues).
Sub-section 16.1 of the GFF statutes reads: “The General Assembly is responsible for the suspension of any members or official and the Executive committee may however suspend with immediate effect, any member or official guilty of the serious or repeated violation of its obligations such suspension shall last until next General Assembly unless it is lifted earlier”.
B. Sub-section 16.2 reads: “Any suspension shall be confirmed by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast at the General Assembly and if it is not confirmed, the suspension is automatically lifted.”
In the light of the above facts, we the designated members of GFF (21 out of 33 members which represent 33 votes out of 51 or 65 per cent of the entire membership) hereby resolved as follows:
1.The GFF does not cease to operate as a national Sports Association that should warrant the leaderships to be suspended and replaced by the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Minister under section 18.1 (a) and 18.2 (b) of the National Sports Council (NSC) Act 2000.
2.The decision to suspend and replace the leadership of GFF is not only a violation of the GFF statutes but NSC Act 2000 and therefore is totally unacceptable.
3.Only the elected members of the GFF are recognised by the members whom we are prepared to work with.
4.The NSC is therefore urged to immediately and unconditionally lift the suspension on GFF executives within seven days failure of which, we the members have no other choice but to boycott all league matches and other activities organised by the interim body.
5.The members accept Independent panel (by the police) to investigate the Gambia U-20’s disqualification saga.
6.The football fraternity and the general public are hereby urged to be patient and allow the GFF executive and members to act accordingly in resolving the matter.