|Out of favour - Belgian Paul Put|
Gambia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Gambia Football Association (GFA) on October 31, 2011 terminated senior national team coach Paul Put’s contract, barely two years before it was due to expire, according to media reports.
The same applies to his compatriot Franco Cresintini, an Italian goal keeper trainer of the senior national team.
Mr Put and his team (Scorpions of The Gambia) on October 8 ended a pitiful African Nations Cup qualifying campaign in a draw (1-1) against Burkina Faso in Banjul, having gone into the game with heads held low and hoping to gain nothing near a qualification spot, after shamefully loosing to Namibia in Windhoek earlier.
The Gambia’s failure to partake in the forthcoming AFCON 2012 competition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, according to reports is the main reason behind his sacking. Fans and journalists had earlier call for his sacking. He had dodged the media for the first time after his last game with the national team.
Put’s contract was due to expire in 2014 after he took over the Scorpions in 2008. He failed to qualify for Angola 2010 Africa Nations Cup, and have since repeatedly blamed the authorities for “not honoring his work plan” lamenting that he had seven proposed test games cancelled due to a lack of funds.
Baned for life for his "involvement in a match fixing scandal in 2007 in his home country, Belgium, the former SK Lierse coach Paul Put got his contract renewed on February 4, 2009 and continues to receive an exorbitant pay of €12, 000 (close to D500, 000) per month, with housing air tickets and communication expenses on gratis. His Italian-compatriot Franco was paid more than half (D250, 000) of his salary.
In 2010, Put’s wages was the subject of debate at the National Assembly in Banjul, for which the Sports Minister Sheriff Gomez was grilled but declined to reveal the amount the coach was being paid. In fact, his salary was far too higher than that of the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, the last time it was known to the public.
During a press conference a few months ago, Mr Put vows never to leave the shores of this country, saying he has a promise to fulfill to President Jammeh, who is apparently the main person behind the signing of the couch.
Meanwhile, the blame game continues in Banjul over the jeopardized campaign of all national teams, especially that of the Senior National Team, the Scorpions. With the dream of reaching Gabon and Equatorial Guinea flushed into “dirty waters”, and reported frictions between the handlers of the game, the sports ministry and the GFA, this country which has never been to Africa’s biggest football competition, has its football dreams “hanging on a balance of probabilities”.
- Author: Modou S. Joof