#Article (Archive)

Papa Gassama named African ‘Referee of the Year’

Jan 11, 2016, 11:43 AM

(Friday, 8 January 2016 Issue)

The Gambian international referee, Papa Bakary Gassama, has been awarded Referee of the Year 2015 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for the second time in a row.

He was awarded the latest prize yesterday at CAF award gala night held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, Nigeria.

Gassama defeated Eric Arnaud Otogo Castene of Gabon, Ghead Zaglol Grisha of Egypt, Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe and Alioum Neant of Cameroon to win the prestigious award.

This is the second time he was been winning the continental award; he won the 2014 Referee of the Year Award.He has been nominated for the award three times in a row.

Gassama, who finished second in the 2013 edition, participated in his fourth consecutive African Cup of Nations finals in 2015.

He refereed his third consecutive African Champions League final this year. He also has a huge amount of experience as a referee in his home country and on the international stage.

(Friday, 8 January 2016 Issue)

Gassama made history last year when he officiated two games in the Qatari domestic football league, the first non-Asian referee to do so. All of this came about following a Memorandum of Understanding with the Qatari Football Federation and Fifa in terms of refereeing assistance.

The Memorandum of Understanding allows for Africa to assign its top referees and assistants to officiate some of the toughest and fiercely contested games in the Qatari Super League.

As part of the implementation stage of the agreement, Gassama, who was voted as one of the seven best referees by Fifa’s Referees Committee at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, became the first African to be appointed for the assignment.He also officiated at the 2013 Club World Cup in Morocco.

Meanwhile, the other 2015 awardees include Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was crowned CAF African Player of the Year for the first time.

The 26-year old beat Ivorian Yaya Toure and Ghana’s Andre Ayew to be crowned the most prestigious individual award in African football. He polled 143 points, seven more than Toure while Ayew finished a distant third with 112 points.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thus becomes the first from his country, Gabon, to win the prize.

The feat by Aubameyang ended the four-year reign of Toure, which lasted 2011 to 2014.

For the African Player of the Year – Based in Africa, Tanzanian Mbwana Aly Samatta was decorated, becoming the first from East Africa to win the coveted prize, reserved for footballers plying their trade on the continent.

Samatta garnered 127 points, ahead of his TP Mazembe teammate and DR Congo goalkeeper Robert Muteba Kidiaba, who amassed 88 points. Algerian Baghdad Bounedjah trailed in third place with 63 points.

Cameroonian Gaelle Enganamouit was adjudged Women’s Player of the Year becoming the first from her country to pick up the prize.

It was double delight for hosts Nigeria with two prizes, Victor Osimhen – Youth Player of the Year and Etebo Peter Oghenekaro – Most Promising Talent of the Year.

For guiding Cote d’Ivoire to continental glory, former coach Herve Renard was named Coach of the Year and ‘Les Elephants’ as National Team of the Year.

Cameroon scooped the Women’s National Team of the Year prize and DR Congo giants, TP Mazembe, Club of the Year, whilst Gambian Papa Bakary Gassama went home with the Referee of the Year award.

Former Ghana coach Charles Kumi Gyamfi and Cameroonian Samuel Mbappe Leppe were honoured posthumously in the African Legend category.

The event, sponsored by Nigerian telecommunication outfit, Globacom, was a night to celebrate and reward sporting excellence, also showcased superb and first-class entertainment from outstanding entertainers across different parts of Africa.

There were musical performances by Shatta Wale (Ghana), Ahmed Soultan (Morocco), Salif Keita (Mali), Awilo Longomba (DR Congo) and Nigerians King Sunny Ade, Dija, Korede Bello, Flavour, Omawumi, Bez and Ego.

The crème de la crème of football administrators around the continent were in attendance.