Connect with us

Gambia’s In-house Football Woes Brewing Another FIFA Ban

Gambia risks facing a possible football ban after the West African nation’s government was warned by FIFA over its interference with representative football body in the country.

FIFA gave the National Sports Council (NSC) – a government body set up to regulate sports – until this week to rescind its suspension of the football federation’s executives or risk incurring a ban.

Borri Darboe, the council’s boss in reply to FIFA’s threat, revealed to Ducorsports that he and his team won’t succumb to ‘outside influence’, insisting the council’s plans to investigate the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) for fraud and corruption will go ahead unhindered even if it means inviting a FIFA ban.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“If FIFA bans Gambia it is in the interest of all to clean the mess. I would not mind resigning if the decision of the council is overturned,”[/perfectpullquote]

he said.

The council and GFF’s ties have been tempestuous since the appointment of Darboe as chairman of the government sports regulatory institution, two months ago.

Should FIFA go ahead and impose a ban, it won’t be the first time the West African country is incurring the world football governing entity’s wrath after the first time in 2014.


How did Gambia get here?

A suspension won’t be any surprise with the two warring factions known to be at loggerheads spanning in 2014 when exiled Yahya Jammeh was president.

All had looked normal with Gambian football in the new leadership until newly appointed Youth and Sports minister Henry Gomez, out of the blue, launched a scathing remark on the Football House, accusing it of misappropriating funds from the world soccer body meant for the refurbishment of a FIFA-funded technical training centre and a football hotel, located in the east of the capital.

Exchange of words, as expected, soon ensued with football boss Lamin Kabba Bajo hitting back saying Gomez’s comments are “contrary to the reality.” Weeks later, the Minister and Bajo made a conducted tour of the said facility at the request of the latter.

Gomez declined to grant his impression of the area to the local press as initially agreed and only made mental notes of the site then yet to be completed, before hurriedly leaving on board his waiting government vehicle.

A general apprehension hovered in the weeks following the Minister’s tour in Yundum and not much transpired between the GFF and the Ministry until two months later when Borri Darboe – a member of the dissolved GFF Executive in 2014 – rose to the rank of chairman at the NSC.

Darboe, a businessman and a board member at second-tier local Gambian club Bakau United, was part of the Mustapha Kebbeh-led federation era banned by FIFA for age-cheating and dissolved by Yahya Jammeh’s government for what it then called a ‘national embarrassment’.

That era is replaced by Lamin Kabba Bajo who now heads the Football House, a thing of which inevitably makes Darboe-led NSC’s pursuit of the current federation difficult not to call a witch-hunt.

The council though publicly insists that their fury with the GFF is not a case of witch-hunt or with a vendetta.

Days prior to his appointment as NSC boss, Borri headed a group of disgruntled delegates dubbed Concerned Stakeholders who made it a mission to point fingers of accusation at Bajo, alleging that the military man-turned football president is running the Football House at his whim and squandering funds amounting to millions.

This trajectory has forced many to conclude that Darboe is using the government institution to settle personal scores.

Two weeks ago, the sports regulatory body announced they’ve obtained flurry of complaints from aggrieved football delegates implicating the GFF of fraud, corruption and meddling with the recent congresses of Regional Football Associations (RFAs).

The NSC set up a panel whose membership comprised figures of the current GFF who have had issues in the past, raising objections with the taskforce’s impartiality.

As hoped, the NSC’s move was met with pockets of resistance from the federation who insists the council is wandering out of its regulatory role and instead ‘interfering with the administration of football.’

Bajo told Ducorsports last week that the government institution lacks the mandate to probe into their affairs and they wouldn’t mind taking it to the courts of law. What transpired, the government revealed that it had suspended five key top dogs of the GFF including president Bajo to allow the investigating panel to carry out its functions unhindered.

The ‘suspended’ quintet refused to heed NSC’s pronouncement with Bajo particularly seen at the FA’s complex, located at urban settlement Serrekunda, several times.

In the heat of the moment, FIFA SG Fatma Samoura from neighboring country Senegal, flew over to Banjul, Gambia’s capital, to hold talks with the government. The proposed visit had to be called off with Sports minister Henry Gomez out of the country on official duty.

Several attempts to engage government officials since, proved in vain, according to FIFA.

The government institution, in a hastily move, arranged a press conference, on Friday, 24th in the afternoon and said, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Their stance on probing the FA is irreversible even if it means incurring the trouble of a seething FIFA.”[/perfectpullquote]

NSC was initially thought to be working without the influence of the Ministry but the press conference implied otherwise with Minister Gomez and Darboe gladly posing for the cameras in the aftermath of the convergence.


So who will be hit the most by a FIFA ban?

Gambia is a country with an embarrassment of talents with players in many major European leagues, but still yet to qualify in any senior international competitions.

Despite losing away 1-0 to Benin in the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers, there’s a glimmer of hope of the impossible being achieved in the games against Cameroon. However, that could be seen washed down under, should FIFA sweep in with a fast becoming, seemingly and unavoidable suspension.

The U-17 Lady Scorpions, due to host Ghana’s Maiden Queens in a World cup qualifier game on December 2nd, 2017, risk being expelled from the tournament, should FIFA act.

The similar consequence will be faced by league winners Armed Forces FC and Football Federation Cup holders, Hawks FC in their respective CAF tournaments; CAF Total Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.

Bakary Papa Gassama, the continent’s three-time best referee award winner, will be left bereft and teetering on the brink.

Among six picked African referees who attended a three-day seminar for Russia World Cup over the weekend, the 38-year-old will be left umbraged if the Lausanne-based body imposes any sanction on Gambia.

A decision in that regard will mean his disqualification from taking any part in the World Cup after being the first African to take charge of a World Cup group game in 2014.




Featured Photo: Lamin Kabba Bajo (l), Borri Darboe (C) and FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura (R). (Courtesy)

More in

Translate »