The National Sports Council at the weekend announced the lifting of the suspension on four senior officials of the Gambia Football Federation. The Council also affirmed its commitment to work with the officials as they seek to overturn a two-year universal ban on the country imposed by CAF.
The decision to lift the suspension on Federation President Mustapha Kebbeh, Buba ‘Star’ Janneh, Kebba Touray and Basirou Barjo, first, second and third vice presidents respectively, was announced by the executive director of the Sports Council, Abdul Aziz Totao Mendy in a press conference jointly organised with the GFF. This was held on Saturdy at the board room of the Independence Stadium and Friendship Hostel.
The quartet were suspended following Gambia’s disqualification from all categories of the Confederation of African Football competitions for a period of two years for what the continental body called deliberately falsifying players’ ages. However, the Federation officials have always maintained that Ali Sowe’s double registration by the body with identical passport numbers but different date of births was as a result of a data entry error. The Gambia Immigration Department has also since disclosed that the Juve Stabia forward has only one passport registration with them.
Anouncing the decision of the Council, Titao Mendy said his office has engaged the Football Federation on issues surrounding the football saga and that they have come to the conclusion that the suspension be lifted so as to ensure that the “pride that we are about to lose as a nation is restored.”
He added: “We have agreed that the suspension imposed on the GFF executive be lifted in order to work hand-in-hand to ensure that the two bodies [NSC and GFF] engage CAF and FIFA for the sanction to be lifted on The Gambia. I hope and pray that our wishes are accomplished as a team.”
For his part, Kebbeh seized the opportunity to thank the government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Jammeh for his foresight, kind heartedness, and support towards sports development in the country and football in particular.
He assures that the GFF will continue to work with the National Sports Council and government to ensure that the appeal process being launched for the suspension on The Gambia to be removed. “We have resolved that the name of The Gambia is taken out of the stain that it is currently in our quest to make sure The Gambia’s flag fly high,” Kebbeh added.
Kebbeh also assured that his executive will work with the ‘rectification committee’ that was instituted by the Sports Council, to work through towards the next Annual General Meeting (AGM) as proposed by FIFA; whether the officials are expected to face a vote of confidence. “We stand in solidarity and we see The Gambia bigger than all of us; and that the development of football in our country is our collective responsibility,” he concluded.
Meanwhile as part of an agreement signed between both parties, Observer Sports has learnt that the Football Federation will organise an Extraordinary General Assembly on Saturday, 19th July 2014 where the executive members will face a vote of confidence from the member clubs and allied associations.
The agreement was reached by both parties after days of intense negotiations between officials of the Council and the Federation geared towards finding a positive conclusion to resolve the impasse.
As part of the agreement, the Sports Council has agreed to recognise the sovereignty and the independence of the Federation with the latter also assuring that the coordination and development of football in the country falls under the purview of the Ministry of Youth and Sports through the NSC.
Sources have also intimated to Observer Sports that further action is expected to be taken by both parties within the next four weeks after all investigations have been completed, with the authorities committing to comply with the outcome of those investigations as well as recommendations. The parties have also resolved that all national and regional football matches affected by the recent impasse should resume immediately.
Sources further intimated that the recent compromise by the partners will avail the partners the opportunity to engage the continental and global football body in an effort to overturn the CAF suspension.
Source: Daily Observer