Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gambia risk FIFA-ban

The Gambia is moving closer to a ban by the world’s football governing body after the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports declared “no turning back” in the decision to dissolve the executive committee of the country’s football association.

Mr. Mambanyick Njie’s comments came a few hours following the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) warns on March 6 that the country could face severe sanctions as a result of “governmental interference” in the affairs of the Gambia Football Association (GFA).

Gambia’s Ministry of Youths and Sports on March 2, 2012 disband the country’s entire Football Association, two days after the Scorpions lost 2-1 at home to the Desert Foxes of Algeria in the first leg of the preliminary round of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“FIFA underlines that any action taken against the GFA’s Executive Committee would constitute a clear governmental interference and therefore infringe the FIFA Statutes which could lead to severe sanctions,” FIFA said in a letter it sent to the GFA.

FIFA also stress that all of its member Associations must manage their affairs independently and within the football family with no influence from third parties in compliance with article 13 ...par. 1g) and article 17 of the FIFA Statutes.

However, Mr. Njie told a local FM station on Tuesday night that the Sports Ministry “will not retract on their decision” by reinstating the executive committee.
As a government, they would prefer to be banned by FIFA and reorganise the association than wasting their resources, he said defiantly, stressing their decision to disband the FA is “final and irreversible.”

If a ban is imposed, Gambia’s national football teams and clubs will not be able to partake in international competitions in all spheres. The GFA will also cease to benefit from the annual US$250K subvention from FIFA.

FIFA has asks the GFA to provide an official report on the account of events related to their current situation by March 8, 2012. After this deadline, the submission of the present case to FIFA’s Emergency Committee (chaired by President Sepp Blatter) will be evaluated.

Gambia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports appointed an interim executive committee on Monday headed by the honorary life president of GFA Alhagie O.B. Conateh, but FIFA said it has informed the GFA that the decision by the Ministry would neither be recognised nor condoned in any way.

“In particular, no governmental instituted “interim committee” would be recognised and/or dealt with by FIFA,” the football body stressed.
Gambia could be forced out of the 2014 WC qualifiers

Meanwhile, the Gambia Government (sports ministry) is going ahead with the inauguration of the interim committee. The committee is tasked to review the GFA constitution, reorganise the local league, and put in place “people who can make rational decisions” at the GFA’s technical department.

The world football governing body forbids “governmental intervention” in the running of national football associations, but Mr. Mambanyick Njie believes FIFA’s warning against the disbandment of GFA “does not conclude that the country will be suspended.”

FIFA’s stance on governmental-interference in football administration has been the same all over the world; nonetheless, Mr. Njie said FIFA’s statements are only meant to deter governments from getting involved in football administration unnecessarily.  

Author: Modou S. Joof

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