Minister denies influencing FIFA

By Sulayman Bah

Youth and Sports minister, Alieu K. Jammeh has denied reports Alieuhe murmured into FIFA’s ears to dissolve the Gambia Football Federation executive.

World football governing body ousted Mustapha Kebbeh at the helm of the Gambia Football Federation who, according to it, no longer has stakeholders’ majority backing following the nation’s two-year international ban by CAF for alleged falsification of players’ document – a charge the ex-GFF executives deny.

However, there were cracks on the GFF’s relationship with the National Sports Council and Ministry of Youth and Sports in the build up to the dissolution amid ubiquitous rumours from the grapevine have it that the Zurich-based organization was influenced.

Sepp Blatter-led FIFA would later appoint a five-member normalization committee with AlagieSillah as chairman to steer the affairs of the Football House until a new board is elected.

In the days following the dissolution, Kebbeh and camp conveyed a press conference protesting their innocence with some club representatives harbouring the strong conviction that FIFA may have been talked into, behind the scene, to take the move.

And breaking his silence for the first time, Alieu Jammeh told reporters over the weekend: “FIFA is bigger than me and I cannot influence them.”

Gambian sports have been caught in maelstrom of controversies including mainly the country’s strong sport institutions in the last twelve months.

One among the bodies involved in the misunderstanding is the Gambia National Olympic Committee whose headquarters is seized upon by police military intervention Unit personnel. Talks over its re-opening between government, NOC and IOC have been on-going.

And when asked about how negotiations are going, Minister Jammeh, disclosed that talks are ‘positive’ but was not forthcoming as to when conclusion will be reached.

“It can be a day, a week, or even a month” he concludes.