Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gambia: Normalisation contradictions go to press


Normalisation Own Goal: Such doubts were seen to be forthcoming and had they gone to press as did the contradictions from the normalisation, would have had chilling effect on the committee, or didn’t it? (Photo Credit: Total Football)
‘Gambia assured CAF support as NC announces partial lifting of ban’, a local newspaper headline said on August 27.

The story referred to comments by Alhagie Sillah, head of the GFF normalisation committee saying: “CAF has assured The Gambia of its support to the development of football in the country, as the normalisation committee announced what it called the partial lifting of the suspension imposed on the country.”

The news spread so fast to the shock of football fans and certain stakeholders who asked, so what? If indeed the suspension is “partially lifted” for the country to play friendlies, how has that add to our already “foregone conclusions” that we can never take part in competitive soccer, at least, not in this ongoing CAF AFCON qualifiers for 2015. 

When the news was being dissect and given critical thoughts in every nook and cranny, a local human rights journalist who has little or no interest in soccer, told me: “But I have read articles on the ban and they never suggested the country was banned from playing test matches. Media reports only indicated the country was banned from international competitions.”

Such doubts were seen to be forthcoming and had they gone to press as did the contradictions from the normalisation, would have had chilling effect on the committee, or didn’t it?
Hon. Alhagie Sillah (Photo: Daily Observer)

Sillah (Hon), a national assembly member, said in his statement the partial lifting of the ban came as a result of his visit to Algeria where he had a meeting with senior CAF and FIFA executive members, according to the report.

But the Committee was compelled to react to its chairman’s statement, dismissing the partial lifting of the ban in a carefully-worded statement published 48 hours later.


The counter-statement indicated that the Committee seeks to clarify an earlier release published in the local media on Tuesday that CAF had partially lifted the two-year football suspension imposed on The Gambia.

Though it noted that it had engaged CAF and FIFA officials to ensure the ban is lifted, it said: “So far, negotiations were still ongoing.”

“…this means that neither a partial nor full lifting of the ban has been reached,” the journalist observed. “So who is fooling who?”

In his opinion, since we have compelled ourselves to live in normalisation, at least, till September 20 according to media reports, the Committee must work to ensure free, fair and transparent elections. We should not try to bring false impression – we should just work to do things as they should be to level the ground for competitive elections, he added.

Having had a remarkable achievement at youth level, though with suspicion from competing sister countries, The Gambia was disqualified by the Confederation of African Football, CAF, from the U-20 Championship for fielding ineligible players.

CAF’s decision on April 21 came after Liberia’s FA protest over Gambia’s use of over-aged players during the first leg of the qualifiers in Monrovia which Gambia won 1-0.

The West African country was further handed a two-year ban over different dates of birth for one of the players identified by Liberia as ineligible.     

The result, another normalisation this time appointed by football’s world governing body, FIFA, just a few months after Gambian football emerged from a two-year normalisation process.

So has it suffered from normalisation, yes would be the answer for many football lovers because in the ensuing period nothing has been achieved if not for a Constitution.

“Gambian football has suffered from normalization for two years, and then we came into office for less than a year and now a normalization committee again,” ousted GFF president Mustapha Kebbeh, who expressed doubt in the credibility of the committee, lamented in August 2014.

“But it is not only football that has suffered; the holders of positions have also suffered. They have been sent to prison though not convicted of any crimes,” the journalist said.

“However, when such contradicting statements go to press quite often as we do not expect, it would have negative implication on the credibility of the normalisation committee.”


Written by Modou S. Joof





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