Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GFF invite police to probe expulsion over age-cheating

GFF President Mustapha Kebbeh (Photo Credit: Sang Mendy)

The Gambia Football Federation, GFF, Wednesday announced it will invite the police to investigate the age-cheating saga that led to the country’s expulsion from the U20 qualifiers last week.
Following an appeal by Liberia over Gambia’s use of ineligible players during the first leg of the qualifiers in Monrovia which Gambia won 1-0, the continent’s football governing body, CAF, announced it has expelled The Gambia. 

"Indeed, Sampere Mendy, Buba Sanneh, Bubacarr Trawally, Saloum Faal and Ali Sowe were all born in 1994 and are not qualified to participate…,” a CAF organizing committee agreed on April 21.

CAF rules states the competition is reserved for players born on or after 1 January 1995, as stated in a September 2, 2013 circular sent to all its member associations.

It has since cancelled the second leg of Gambia Vs Liberia that was scheduled for 25-27 April and declared Liberia “qualified” for the next round.

On April 23, GFF President Mustapha Kebbeh said “the police as a professional investigative body are best suited to probe the matter.” 

Kebbeh said he had sleepless nights and great distress over Gambia’s expulsion which he described as a very sad. 

The GFF President also said they will take up responsibility as leaders and learn from this incident. He said corrective measures will be taken.

Kebbeh’s comments came 72 hours after his Spokesperson Buba ‘Star’ Janneh said GFF will protest CAF’s decision. 

Janneh argued: “The GFF is innocent and we were acting on the rules and regulations that were presented to us. The players that we selected were under-20 and they are eligible to play the qualifiers. 

“If you are nineteen years old and eleven months twenty five days you are still U-20 and for that being the case all those players we featured were below 20 years.

“The Gambia Football Federation is going to protest against the decision.”    

The National Sports Council (NSC), a body that oversees sports affairs as a technical arm of the ministry of youth and sports, has stated that it received the news "with total consternation."

"The National Sports Council condemns the decision of the Gambia Football Federation for using overage players which has caused ‘national embarrassment’ to the country which could have been avoided," its director said.

It has since announce a task force to investigate The Gambia's disqualification from the U-20 youth championship that will be hosted by neighbouring Senegal in 2015.

In a statement, the NSC said it will accordingly "take appropriate action" but fall short of giving details as to what that means.

Abdul Aziz Titao Mendy, NSC's Executive Director said: "This clearly shows incompetence of Gambia Football Federation as they were advised on a circular that only players born on 1st January 1995 or after this date are eligible to play in this championship.

“The GFF was given expert advice 24 hours before The Gambia vs Liberia game that they needed to go strictly by the dictates of the CAF circular.

“The GFF will be expected to take full responsibility of their own wrong judgment and act professionally in such circumstances.” 

Written by Modou S. Joof
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