5 December 2012

Gambia: President Jammeh Speaks On GFA

The president of the Republic has set the record straight by speaking publicly for the first time on key issues surrounding the game of football in the country. He spoke extensively on the efforts of the GFA Normalisation Committee, its vice chairman, and the need to allow young people of the country to vote in the GFA presidential election.

His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh was speaking on Friday during a meeting with the Female U-17 football team and officials who participated in the recent World Cup in Azerbaijan.

President Jammeh commended Omar Sey in particular and described him as a patriotic Gambian despite their divergent political views. "That being the case, I think both sides to the argument on the papers about Sey were wrong. They are not doing football any good by trying to cast aspersions and throwing mud at each other, trying to blame somebody for one's failure.

I remember that when we qualified for Peru Uncle Sey was there. I am not holding brief for anybody but as a Muslim I have to be very honest. If he wasn't committed, I don't think he would have been in Peru. So the fact that he is back if I had any reservation about him, there was no way he would be in the football team," he said.

The Gambian leader told Sey that they can have divergent political views and support, but noted that The Gambia would always remain The Gambia and when it comes to a national event they should all support it all the way. "All what we want is a Gambia Football Association that represents The Gambia. So let us accept that everyone has a role to play in the failure of GFA, not the footballers. The male team did their best, unfortunately GFA decided to kill their spirit by doing things that were contrary or inimical to success in football," he said.

According to President Jammeh, Omar Sey was not at that time a member of GFA and should not be blamed for somebody's shortcomings. "This is not fair. I want to thank him for his resilience," he said, advising him [Sey] to ignore them and not to bring himself to their level.

"As an elder patriot, sometimes with your age it is better to ignore such people. The oldest man or woman in the compound is often considered a dustbin. Anything good or bad, they throw it at him or her. What is more important is that you have a role to play, you have a responsibility to this country and that is to make sure that we set a football federation that will be representative of the wishes and the dreams of all Gambians," Jammeh told Sey in an encouraging tune.

Ministry's negotiation with FIFA

On what he described as fruitful, the Gambian leader used the opportunity to thank the minister of Youth and Sports for taking his [Jammeh's] guidance in resolving the GFA issue and coming far to its current stage. According to him, many countries were suspended by FIFA for taking similar actions without informing them. This, he went on, was the reason why he made it very clear to the Sports minister not to confront FIFA and be hostile to them.

"Explain to them [FIFA] the circumstances and give them evidence. They will allow you to do what you want because their [FIFA] interest is to see international football move to higher heights and not go down," he said.

He said his directives were followed and the minister negotiated with FIFA and they [FIFA] understood what needed to be done. Now that the Gambia Football Association is on the verge of forming a new association, the Gambian leader advised that it be done in the right way. "I know of instances where people create so many football teams and bribe them to elect them into office. This time, we are not going to allow that. I think what we should do is to allow young people to vote for whoever they want to be the president of the Gambia Football Association.

In fact, if we would not be in trouble with FIFA, I would suggest that no football association participate. But what is more important is that this is a national thing and all youths of this country whether they are members of any association or not, should be allowed to vote and whoever gets the majority becomes the president. I don't think it is fair we leave it to the associations to select and at the end they select somebody who will drag football into the mud," President Jammeh advised.

At that juncture, the Gambian leader asked the Youth and Sports minister to talk to FIFA to allow all the youths to vote for whoever they want to become the president of the GFA.In that case, he said nobody will sit there and occupy that office thinking whatever he/she does he has the backing of so many associations and he/she will always be the eternal president of GFA.

"It is Gambia Football Association and not Kanilai Football Association, neither Baddibu Football Association. So I see no reason why all Gambian youths -male and female, should not participate in the selection of a person who is very key in leading the affairs of football in this country and beyond. That is my humble suggestion; so that this stalemate of vicious circle of insult, accusations and counter-accusations would come to an end," President Jammeh concluded.

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