10 December 2012

Gambia: GFA Delegates Reject Creation of Regional Associations

GFA/FIFA draft constitution proposal for the creation of regional associations has been turned down by the FA delegates during an adoptive congress on Saturday.

The heated day-long congress wrapped up with mix-feelings with the draft constitution adopted but not until proposition for the creation of regional association is out rightly rejected.

While the constitution is adopted after breathtaking deliberations, some factions of the delegates made no secret of what they dubbed urbanization of football in Gambia - sentiments, FIFA's Primo Carlvalho -agrees with.

At a press conference shortly after the laborious Constitution Review Committee -GFA delegates faceoff, Normalisation Committee's Chairman Omar Sey lauded the sweeping changes effected but expressed reservations on the delegates' apparent unanimous decision to do away with proposal to establish seven regional associations one per region instead opting for twenty-eight clubs.

The delegates' position which visibly left the constitutional review panel berserk according to Omar Sey is contrary to football development.

"Is my pleasure to announce to you, the constitution, as amended, has been adopted over two-third majority. It has not been without a lot of compromises on all sides. We reached an agreement to submit the constitution to them which they have approved, with a lot of amendments. Some of the amendments I frankly say, I didn't expect in my personal view were not good for Gambian football. But the delegates have the sovereign right o approve or to disapprove. I like to thank Mr. Primo Carlvalho who has also been with us from the inception" GFA vice chairman said in a hastily conveyed press conference at the Stadium friendship hostel swarmed by reporters.

Sey -former Gambia foreign affairs minister - repeatedly rhetorically quizzed congress stand to trash off the membership proposal but reiterated that the Normalisation Committees will however try to cooperate.

"Is a step forward that we have a new constitution which is openly debated all over the country. We have all mechanisms to assist in the development of football like he [Primo] had mentioned, the sub committees, the legal institutions that are there, arbitration is all there. But frankly I am not also very happy that we did not accept the concept of having regional football because that's the crucial thing in African countries. We should not be an exception, but the congress in their sovereign right decided that they will do away with those regional associations and instead continue with what was there before organising football with 1st, 2nd and 3rd division at the regional level. I don't think that is very good but as I said, this is what they said, and we will try to work with them and see where it takes us between now and march is three months, then a new committee will come in and see how they function." He added, noting, the government-backed NC has no regrets taking the Normalisation job.

A blunter head of football association at FIFA, Primo Carlvalho said, "The members of the Normalisation committee, constitution review committee and Fifa, we understand that football was not well developed all over the country. It was rather focused on Banjul and we thought in other to promote football we would create regional associations. Seven regional associations, one per region in other to make sure that you will have relied on the region in other to develop football. Another example is the constitution, when it comes to the executive members you will have people coming from the region; one to guarantee that regions are represented to promote football and the decision of the executive committee. It has not been accepted. The delegates rejected the creation of the seven regional associations even though I understood that most of them say that they were not happy that everything is in Banjul. We also proposed something so that football will also go out of Banjul, they refused."

Voicing his utmost disappointment, he continued: "So we don't have regional associations anymore and instead, they brought twenty-eight clubs. And I asked the Vice chairman of the Normalisation committee to give me proper figures of those clubs. Meaning, I will like to know what are these clubs, what competition they have; how many games they play because I am going to report to my colleagues [in FIFA]. Then fifa has to approve or not to approve the status. It doesn't mean that if fifa doesn't approve the constitution, the constitution is not valid, no. But we can say we don't agree or we agree. So for us [FIFA] to take any decisions, we need figures from those twenty-eight clubs. We want to develop football in the regions and to make sure there is a balance within the football family"

"I will be frank to you that I am a bit disappointed even there has been a lot of improvement but it is clear what was prevailing before was not suitable for Gambia and that was why we have a crisis. My feeling is, we are more or less with the same setup" he said on a final note.

Minister of Sports Alieu K Jammeh re-echoed the aforementioned speakers' disappointment but assures government will not take a back sit to this issue.

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