Sports Minister breaks the silence on NSC-GFF Saga

BY: Alieu Ceesay 

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Henry Gomez has finally broken his silence on the two-week standoff between The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) and the National Sports Council (NSC), which resulted in the latter suspending the former.

The Sports Council suspended the GFF executive pending an investigation following allegations of financial mismanagement and election irregularities by a group of individuals claiming to be ‘concerned stakeholders.’

The GFF said it was not recognizing the suspension as the Council had no mandate to investigate them, which was followed by a warning letter from FIFA through the GFF for the NSC to reversed its decision or the country would face a global sanction.

However, the Minister never at any point spoke to the media on the matter, until the suspension was lifted as a result of the intervention from the highest office of the land.

His silence on the matter left many wondering as he could not entertained interviews from journalists during the saga.

But speaking in an interview on West Coast Radio’s Sports File, Gomez called for all Gambians to put sentiments aside and come together for the progress and development of football and sports in the country.

“Let us stop saying this is my friend, relative or is my party militant and see Gambia first if we want result and progress. Gambia is bigger than all of us.”

He dispel the notion that him and his ministry are witch hunting, while calling on those Gambians charged with the responsibilities of running the Sports to be transparent in their dealings.

Despite lifting the suspension, Minister Gomez made it clear that the Council has the constitutional mandate to regulate and investigate all football associations.

“Let the GFF know that the Ministry and Sports Council are not enemies to them.”

According to him, people have learnt a lot from the standoff between the GFF and NSC, as all sporting disciplines will take the NSC seriously.

“They [NSC] have touched issues people were only talking about but were not brave enough to take action.”

He praised President Barrow in the interview for being a ‘level-headed gentleman’ and for advising him (Minister Gomez) to take the right direction during a meeting to discuss about the saga.

As to whether he is ready to sit down with the GFF ExCO to discuss positive plans for football, the ‘Mobeyeh Baluuu’ man replied in the positive.

He described the GFF President Lamin Kaba Bajo as a brother and friend to him, because as he puts it, “when we are together we always chat”.

“Let bygone be bygone. I don’t know who is the best player between me and Kaba, but I believe I am the best player and Kaba is the best soldier. The family is back,” he jokingly said in the interview on West Coast Radio, while revealing plans to have officials of his ministry, Sports Council and GFF to meet FIFA.