A total of 49 out of 60 male and female football clubs in The Gambia have signed a petition letter against the establishment and performance of the Normalisation Committee of the Gambia Football Association (GFA), headed by veteran Alhaji OB Conateh.
The letter dated the 6th of August was sent to the acting general secretary of the GFA and copied to the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports; the general secretaries of FIFA, CAF and WAFU, Nicolas Valticos, at the FIFA Legal Affairs Division, the executive secretary of the National Sports Council and the media.
The petition was signed by five out of the 12 male first division clubs, and in what many pundits describe as Banjul against the regions, it appears that none of the seven Banjul clubs signed the letter, while six of the 10 male second division clubs also signed the petition. Except the 11 male first and second division clubs, all the regional clubs in both categories have signed the petition.
Below is the full text of the letter sent to Observer Sports desk by the Clubs.
On March 2, 2012, the Minister of Youth and Sports announced the dissolution of the Executive Committee of The Gambia Football Association on the premise that The GFA amongst others;
-Had no Constitution for three years
-Was not retiring impress
The Minister further set up a Normalisation Committee and has been given a six-week mandate with the under-mentioned "terms of reference".
1. Review The Gambia Football Association's Constitution with the view to amending and aligning it with the FIFA accepted one.
2. Hold an Annual General Assembly Meeting with a view to sensitising stakeholders on the changes been made at the helm of affairs of The Gambia Football Association.
3. Hold a Congress to elect new Officials who are transparent, efficient, effective and competent in running The Gambia Football Association.
4. Re-organisation of the GFA League Matches
5. Investigate the reasons behind the non-delivery of Trophies and cash prises of league winners for the past years.
FIFA issued an ultimatum for the Executive Committee of The GFA to be reinstated or else The Gambia will be suspended from all football activities.
The Normalisation Committee led by the Minister travelled to Switzerland and held discussions with FIFA on the GFA saga. FIFA, having received information on the resignation of the Executive Committee, gave the Normalisation Committee a six-month extension on its mandate.
Ever since, we have realised strings of poor results in the performance of our National teams; unnecessary withdrawals of our junior and cadet teams from International Competitions; name - calling and finger - pointing wiles over the public media. All these disgusting contributions to the pitiable situation in which Gambian football has found itself today.
The Normalisation Committee, instead of confining its performance to the prescribed terms of reference outlined above, has moved illegally to tamper with the Secretariat by appointing and suspending the staff. This matter falls within the constitutional mandate of an elected Executive Committee. Anything otherwise could be seen as interference or intrusion that could further encourage some legal cases against our National Association. The Ministry has also directly interfered by directing the appointment of FA staff. Measures intended to justify the Normalisation Committee are not appealing to the public eye. Instead, only remorse and resentment were meted on its members on a daily basis.
Overall, the dissolution of the Executive Committee and the setting up of the Normalisation Committee has spelt doom for Gambian football. Never has our game suffered so miserably with scorelines and withdrawals that ended with the Presidency of the current Chairman of the Normalisation Committee. The extrication of the regional league clubs from the Proposed Constitution is equally demeaning to our National game. During the recently concluded consultative meeting with the regions on the draft constitution, the normalisation committee tried to lure and intimidate stakeholders to accept their constitution tailored made to suit their interest.
They are quoted saying "FIFA helped us to develop this constitution so it has all what it takes" "if you disagree with this constitution then FIFA will not support Gambian football", said the vice chairperson of the Normalisation Committee. The committee is adamant on excluding the legitimate first and second division clubs in the Regions and with the intention of denying them their rightful voice in football. Needless to expound on the budgetary deficits inherited by the dissolved Executive and still has been increased by the current activities of the Normalisation Committee.
The normalisation committee has had ample time to complete their assignment within six months, but they have woefully failed and therefore should vacate at the end of their tenure (30 September 2012). Therefore, prior consultations by relevant stakeholders we the undersigned League Clubs being the main stakeholders in the setting up and running of The Gambia Football Association have resolve that:
-The Ministry of Youth and Sports should recognise the autonomy of The Gambia Football Association and refrain from direct interference as enshrined in the FIFA Status.
-The Ministry cannot and should not appoint any staff to The Gambia Football Association.
-The Normalisation Committee should desist from making appointments and dismissals of Secretariat staff with immediate effect.
-The Normalisation Committee speeds-up its activities, set a date for the General Assembly and congress on or before the 30 September 2012 as agreed with FIFA.
-We will not recognise any extension of the Mandate of the Normalisation Committee beyond September 30 2012.
- We stand to defend the interest of our beloved Country and our beautiful game and refuse to give in the desires of a privileged few.
-As stakeholders in football, we all call on our dear Ministry of Youth and Sports, FIFA, CAF and WAFU for their unflinching support in ending the mayhem in our National Football Association brought about by uncorroborated assertions that seriously strained our National Game.
Finally, we called on all stakeholders to work in unison, to fly The Gambia Flag high to deliver our game to its glory days.
Under-signed Presidents and General Secretaries of Affiliated League Clubs / Regional Football Rep. / Committees affiliated to The Gambia Football Association