Accused of Rape and Fraud-- the Emotional Story of a Gambian Footballer Trying to Fit in After Image-Tainting Allegations
Paraded a football cheat even after the claims are found to be untrue by the courts, Yusupha Yaffa’s reputation is torn apart but not beyond repair.
A quick search of his name on the net shows a man depicted in every gloomy fashion. The Gambian’s hellish issues began at start of January 2015 just months after sanctioning a switch to second tier German club MSV Duisburg as a youth player following elapse of his deal with Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt. Prior to that, he spent three seasons as a developmental footballer for former European champions AC Milan and Bologna.
But trouble treaded his path soon after, teeing off with his visit at a teammate’s flat. Stories circled about him the morning after that and the result left a bitter taste to the mouth.
Yaffa is described as having an ostentatious side he likes to express by teammates but not with involvement in sexual assaults.
An urgent meeting was summoned which included the player and his representatives at Duisburg chairman’s office after newspapers carried story of the striker being accused of rape by an unnamed woman.
The complainant, whose identity wasn’t waived until at tail end of the case, was said to be a Guinean woman.
His teammate, reported to have organised the night party, labelled claims of the rape ever taking place at his flat as bonkers and ‘untrue.’
Sponsors were believed to be growing agitated at the German club’s name being dragged along to the mud in the wake of the new development.
As police wrapped up preliminary findings with a formal court case set to be instituted against the Gambian, MSV Duisburg opted to ask the player to cease training to allow him chance to concentrate on the case.
The move, described a diplomatic suspension of the starlet by the German press, followed as Yaffa frequented the police department with his lawyers. Pictures of the then desolate-looking 18-year-old emerging from the police headquarters made the rounds.
The Gambian football federation who were at this moment wooing the goal-getter for the country’s national team, did not issue a formal communiqué but were said to have made few enquires about the saga.
Eventually, the embattled footballer secured a €100,000 bail bond paid for by his former employers Eintracht Frankfurt.
Weeks later, the Frankfurt court ruled in the Serrekunda-born’s favour, clearing him of rape allegations after his accuser failed to employ right to appeal the judgment.
In, comes allegations of fraud and perjury
Pic: In a latest picture, Yaffa is attempting to get a contract in faraway Poland
Months after the dust culminating from the rape case settled, another furore dogged Yusupha’s career –a second major reputation-tainting saga for the youngster.
The accuser this time is the Cuneo municipality – a province in northern Italy –where the striker once lived.
The allegations set in on the heels of a Cuneo official’s reported discovery on the aforesaid player’s social media. The municipality said they found 1987 written as date of birth on the player’s timeline instead of 1996.
According to claims laid by the province, Yaffa was 28 years as opposed to the 19 he claimed. Meaning, he must have been 27 at the time of signing contract papers as a youth player for AC Milan in 2014 which should mathematically make him a 31-year-old today.
However, when news of this trajectory broke, it caught the football world’s attention as the western media went ballistic with the story claiming AC Milan were the plaintiff instead of Cuneo, prompting an investigation by Ducor Sport.
In the heat of the moment, this publication reached German second tier outfit Duisburg’s spokesperson Martin Haltermann for a comment and his reply is reproduced below verbatim:
‘‘Dear Mr. Bah, Thank you very much for your kind mail. Please understand that Yusupha Yaffa will give no interviews or statements on the subject, before the facts are negotiated on April 21 on an Italian court. For your interest: The suit was filed by the municipality of Cuneo (a province in Italy) and not by AC Milan, as some media wrote. Yusupha has assured us, that his date of birth 31 December 1996 is correct. Best regards, Yours Sincerely Martin Haltermann Press-Officer MSV Duisburg.”
The footballer, who has dual nationality with Gambia and Italy, was sued and traveled back to Milan to appear before the National Federal Court.
In the dock, the star was accused of lowering his age by nine years in order to gain football advantage to be signed by big clubs. The Cuneo prosecutors based their argument on the forward’s social media posts where he is alleged to have submitted different dates of birth.
As the trial went on, the prosecutors failed to provide evidence for their claims with the said social media account, where their burden of proof appeared to lie, closed.
Photo: Seen, Playing for Ac Milan here, Yaffa wasn’t sued by the Italian giants
Proceedings reached a stage where the trial judge ordered for the defendant to be subjected to bone-marrow test.
A team of medical experts, led by an associate professor and the University of Turin’s Director Institute of Legal Medicine Giancario Di Vella, were tasked to conduct the bone-testing.
Delivering their findings, under testimony in the later stage of the case, Di Villa’s said the plaintiff’s bones ranges between 18 and 22 years –a thing that appeared to dismiss the prosecution’s position.
Former AC Milan goal assassin Filipo Inzaghi –who coached Yaffa at youth level -was among a plethora of witnesses summoned to testify.
The trial took a twist when Massimo Scarabello, the judge hearing the case ruled for the matter be transferred to a juvenile court in Turin.
Scarabello said his court lacked the merit to continue the hearing, insisting the Gambian was a minor when the alleged offenses were being committed.
In the interim, Yusupha’s attorney Mauro Cavalli moaned the trial has forced his client from carrying out his job -playing football.
At the juvenile court, the matter was heard in camera in what later became a protracted wrangle.
Finally a verdict was passed clearing the player of any wrongdoing.
Relief at last but…
In the build-up to the judgment being announced, Yaffa had gone without playing for over a year. This means loss of money and joy in the other hand on account his troubles look over. But fingers still continue to be pointed at him with his past often referenced in stories bandied about him.
He is currently attending trial with Polish premier league club Koronie Kielce. This undertaking to play in faraway Poland it’s being hoped will take him away from never-seems-to-be-ending scrutiny from the media.
In a latest development, the Polish club are reportedly being persuaded not to sign the player even if he proves worthy of being offered a contract amid fears of a backlash from fans regarding the player’s past.
It remains to be seen how Kielce’s chairman Krzysztof Zając and manager Gino Lettieri will respond to these worries.