Apr 25, 2008, 6:44 AM
The saga surrounding the non-payment of match allowances as claimed by the players of the Gambia national senior team almost a week ago, has heaped on the worrying news that the Ministry of Youth and Sports has not honored the promised they made to the players and officials prior to their departure for the recent Gabon friendly.
It is said the angry Scorpions footballers acted in response to what they perceived to be an unfulfilled promise by the country's sports ministry.
Furious players of the gallant Gambia's Scorpions who returned to Banjul at the weekend on the back of a heroic 1-nil win over Gabon much to the delight of the Gambian soccer fans, met at the Seaview Hotel on Friday afternoon to voice out their anger and frustration to the country's Youth and Sports ministry for what they said was a total disappointment regarding the non-payment of their match allowances while they were in Gabon, as promised by representatives from the ministry who attended the last week conference at the Seaview Hotel.
The players and officials of the team were engaged in a strong negotiation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports representatives led by the permanent secretary, Alieu K. Jammeh, in protest over non-payment of their match bonuses or allowances barely three days before the team was scheduled to take part in an international friendly match that took place in Libreville, Gabon, last Tuesday.
Coach Paul Put and his charges were understood to have threatened to boycott the Gabon friendly in protest over non-payment of their match allowances only just few hours ahead of their notorious departure before making a u-turn to travel for the friendly in the interest of their nation without their match allowances. They have however taken the ministry to task by asking them to make available their allowances as soon as possible.
However, sources close to the last week’s concession disclosed to this reporter that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had reached a widespread compromise with the team and that it would transfer the money to the accounts of the players in Gabon on Tuesday (last week), but Scorpions stand-in captain Mustapha Jarju, who led the team to a famous victory at the expense of the much prepared Gabon national team, led a team of furious players to a press briefing at the Seaview Hotel less than 10 hours after the team's return to Banjul.
Toubabo, as he is widely called, and his team-mates during the press conference, reacted bitterly to what they called disgruntled pledge giving to them by the Ministry of Youth and Sports prior to the team's departure to Gabon last Sunday.
He (Mustapha Jarju) said: "We (the Scorpions) are not happy because the promise made by the Ministry of Youth and Sports before our departure was not fulfilled and it is really frustrating to travel for international match without a butut."
"It is frustrating and unfair on us to go to Gabon without a butut and imagine some of the young players found it hard after we arrived at the airport (Banjul International Airport), because they have no money to pay for their fares back home, which is sad and discouraging."
The fuming Scorpions captain however reaffirmed to the Gambian people that no matter what happens they will remain loyal to the Gambian soccer fans with or without a reward.
But he said they would like to request for honest people to tell them the truth for "the good of football in The Gambia" rather than always giving them fragile excuses.
Scorpions charismatic forward Ousman Jallow also added his voice to the matter saying; "We are totally disappointed that the ministry has not fulfilled the promise they made before our departure and this things must stop if we want our football to go up."
Another Scorpions player Pa Modou Jagne, who was understood to have been tortured coincidentally after The Gambia’s win over Gabon by Gabonese supporters, has also appealed to the ministry to stay away from football and allow the Gambia Football Association to continue taking up the responsibility of football if they could not.
One man who could also not conceal his frustration was the administrator of The Gambia's senior national team, Terema L. Dahaba, who began the press briefing by paying tribute to the Scorpions for what he referred to as their heroic performance despite all the frustrations they endured while in Libreville owing to the non-payment of their match allowances, a situation that he said forced some of the players to beg money from their fellow players from the Gabonese team.
This impasse or dilemma has followed series of similar dialogues between the country’s football authorities and the national teams including the Gambia national U-20 team, who collectively agreed to boycott their Seaview Hotel camp in protest over the non-payment of their match bonuses in the build-up to the recently ended Caf African U-20 Youth Championship held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Darling Scorpions, like the giant or big Scorpions, later made a turnaround and travelled to Johannesburg without the full payment of their match bonuses
Even though the team went through a difficult but victorious qualifying round in Johannesburg, sources close to Pointsport say the boys are still unpaid.
The Gambian national teams are becoming increasingly disturbed by what they call unfair treatment dished out to them by football authorities due to non- payment of their bonuses, something they have proclaimed to put an "instantaneous end to".
Meanwhile, Pointsport has gathered that the Ministry of Youth and Sports is holding a press conference in Banjul today at 11am to react to the story surrounding the unpaid allowances of the players for the Gabon friendly.