8 January 2016

Gambia: Papa Gassama is African Referee of the Year for Second Time

Gambian Papa Gassama was named 2015 African Referee of the Year, his second in a row, equalling the record held by Algerian Haimoudi Djamel who won in 2012 and 2013.

The FIFA referee, 36, soared to the prestigious award at the expense of Egyptian Ghead Zaglol Grisha, Janny Sikazwe of Zambia and Gabonese Eric Arnaud Otogo Castane. He was presented with his prize by CAF Executive Committee member, Magd Shams El Dine at the 2015 Glo-CAF Awards Gala on Thursday, 7 January 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Referee of the Year Award was decided by the votes of CAF Refereeing Committee. Gassama's next target would be to become the first man to win three straight African Referee of the Year Awards and because of his current standing in the game, both at continental and global level, the Gambian could establish a monopoly that may prove very difficult to surmount.

During the year under review, Gassama who won the 2014 edition, handled and discharged his duties professionally in some high profile games including the final of the AFCON 2015 in Equatorial Guinea and the CAF Champions League final.

Having become a FIFA referee in 2007, Papa Gassama has over the last eight years proved to be one of the foremost referees in world football. After refereeing in the 2012 Olympics in London, where he was the fourth official in the Gold Cup Match between eventual winners Mexico and Brazil, the Gambian officiated the Netherlands - Chile clash at the group phase of the 2014 World Cup. He was rated one of the seven best referees in that competition by FIFA and for someone who would turn 37 in February, Papa is again in line to participate at the 2018 edition in Russia.

Also in 2014, he refereed the CAF Champions League final second leg as well as games in the qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations. Gassama, who participated in his fourth consecutive African Cup of Nations finals in 2015, also refereed his third consecutive African Champions League in 2015.

Reacting to Papa's latest triumph, Lamin Kaba Bajo the President of The Gambia Football Federation told Observer Sports that it is a very proud and joyous moment for every Gambian.

"It's a joyous and proud moment for all of us. The first time we won it, it was the first for The Gambia and to win it for the second time in a row is definitely a big pride for the nation and we want to join him to celebrate it," Bajo said.

"He really deserved it. So on behalf of the Executive Committee and staff of The Gambia Football Federation, the allied member associations and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate Papa Gassama for once again making every Gambian proud."

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