Gambia risk ban as FIFA issues ultimatum to government

World football governing body FIFA has given the Gambia government until Monday to overturn its decision to “suspend and investigate” officials of the Gambia Football Federation.

FIFA, in a letter addressed to the Lamin Kabba Bajo-led Executive, warns the National Sports Council, who are mandated by the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, to reverse its decision to suspend and investigate the Federation and warns that the country will face suspension should they proceed with their investigation.

FIFA, who have zero compromise for government interference in football matters said it “repeatedly” tried to meet with the Minister of Youth and Sports, Henry Gomez, to discuss the matter, as part of their new approach to engage authorities on such matters before resorting to action but to no avail.

Part of the letter, made available to Gambia Sports and signed by the body’s Secretary General, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, reads: “We remind you that in accordance with art. 14 par. 1 let. i), and par. 3, and art. 19 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, all member associations, including the GFF, are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from any third party. Failure to meet these obligations may lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA Statutes, including a possible suspension, even if the third-party influence was not the fault of the member association concerned.”

“The aforementioned decision of the NSC dated 9 November 2017 seems to go against these principles and, if implemented, would most likely be considered as an undue interference in the affairs of the GFF.”

It further added that: “Consequently, we kindly ask you to share this message with the Minister and indicate to him that if the decision is not withdrawn until Monday, 27 November 2017 the matter would be automatically submitted to the Bureau of the FIFA Council for consideration of further measures in accordance with the FIFA Statutes.”

“In the meantime, we remain at the full disposal of the Gambian authorities to discuss, jointly with the GFF, amicably and in a spirit of constructive partnership.”

It could be recalled that the NSC decided to suspend the GFF for what it says is a lack of cooperation from the latter’s part to cooperate in investigations.

The Council set up an investigation panel to look into GFF affairs amid “allegations of financial fraud, GFF constitutional violations on the Regional Football Associations Elective Congresses, Match Fixing Allegations” and “disregarding directives of the Council to suspend the second division match until the outcome of the investigations” and in order to enable the NSC investigation team to carry out “the investigation without interference from the suspended officials.”

It now remains to be seen if the NSC will budge on the Monday deadline or maintain their stance which will lead to a ban on the country, meaning the country’s club and national teams won’t take part in CAF and FIFA competitions.