Minister Badjie, stunned by CAF’s decision, clarifies why GFF is not part of the Stadium Renovation Committee

Sports Minister with the CAF stadium inspector Muhammed F. Sedat during CAF visit to Inspect the renovated stadium.

By Lamin Fadera

Following CAF’s decision to ban the Independence stadium for the next month’s AFCON qualifiers by not allowing the Scorpions to play their final group game against Congo DR in Banjul, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie, told TAT that he was surprised that the Confederation of African football declares the stadium unfit to host the game in Banjul.

“We were surprised because we understood that when we invited him, the idea was to ask an inspector to come and look at what we were doing and then advise because they are the experts. They know precisely what they would want to be done. That is why it is called preliminary inspection, and when he came, he made his observation, and the words were fair enough. He recognized the amount of work and acknowledged that a lot had changed from what they knew about the independent stadium.

“But also, there were areas that we should have included in the work. Based on the advice from the stadium management and the guidelines regarding what you can do to meet the minimum standard, we were working on that. We were never doing a complete rehabilitation of the stadium even though the assessment had it, and we look at what can be done, and we have done that,” Badjie said.

According to Minister Badjie, Muhammed F. Sidat highlighted some adjustments, including the scoreboard, the floodlights 1200 lots, the player’s tunnel, and the floor tiles should be anti-slippery.

He added the CAF field inspector recommended to them to remove the tiles or put a carpet on the tiles, relocation of the media tribune and tables with cable and electricity connection, and that the VIP and VVIP should be separated, and fiberglass should be installed there to separate the two section.

According to the Minister, what surprised them was that Muhamed F.Sidat promised to return for the final stadium inspection. However, four days later, they received a communication that the stadium needed to be fit to host Gambia’s last home game against Congo in September.

“Our surprise was not what he said; our surprise was the fact that we were expecting him to come back for a final inspection to determine whether they can give us temporal approval. And then when they went, four days later, we received a communication that Gambia stadium could not be used for the upcoming match, and then I think that was the surprise. Because when he came, everybody had him say we are going and will be coming back in one month, and it didn’t happen, but essentially, we have moved on and taken the requirement,” said Badjie

Gambia Football Federation’s Expulsion from the Renovation Committee

During the remodeling and renovation work at the independent stadium, the assertion was that the Gambia Football Federation wasn’t involved when the work was done at the stadium. The 2nd vice president of the GFF and the general manager of the independent stadium, Ebou Faye, confirmed to this medium that it was a “mistake” that the GFF wasn’t involved during the renovation work.

Stadium Manager Ebou Faye with Sports Minister

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie, said there is no reason anybody can explain why GFF was not involved. He confirmed that at the initial stage of the process when the first meeting was convened at the end of last year, the GFF was supposed to be in attendance but weren’t there when they had their first meeting, and since then, they weren’t involved in the process of the work.

“What happened initially was that work was supposed to start in May last year, so when we have the list, GFF was there, and Gam works and others. Now when the meeting started, I think in November or December, they were absent from the meeting, and then they developed a list of those in attendance and started inviting those on the list. And they have their own What Sapp Who, which I am not part of.

“The PS is the technical committee’s chairman, and they brief me on issues, but I don’t engage. We wouldn’t say this is the reason; the only reason we could say is that it was abnormal. It was not supposed to be that way. And then it is an omission that the entire ministry didn’t pay attention to, and even those who attended the meeting didn’t come back and say that GFF isn’t coming to the meetings,” the Minister told The Alkamba Times.

Despite the oversight from those involved, the honorable Minister believes that the GFF should notify them of being absent during these periods. He said the idea of CAF stadium inspector Muhammed F. Sedat coming to the Gambia was the GFF that advised the ministry to bring him to the Gambia to see the work and inform them what to improve. He said that they appreciated the GFF reaching out to them.

“In the same light, they could have also said we are not involved in the committee, and we would have corrected it. But also, that is why Mr. Faye said they were not involved somehow. Not being involved means there has not been any formal-written letter from us to them. But they know about it, they are involved in the sense that they suggested the CAF official, and we sent them the letter. Even before the CAF official came, they went to the stadium to do an inspection, and we are still waiting to hear whether this was right or wrong. The second vice president is the general manager of the independent stadium, and he is one of the most senior stadium inspectors and is part of the committee; he has been with the committee, and they work together. All these things that are required for the stadium come from him,” Badjie said.

GFF as a body might need to be included, but the general manager and 2nd vice president of the federation were entirely part of the committee, as highlighted by the Minister.

Part two of our exclusive interview with the Minister of Youth and Sports will come into our subsequent publication. The Minister discusses a new stadium, his take on the Gambia’s Coach Tom Saintfeit, his critics, and when work will finish. 


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