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Sunday, May 15, 2011

GFA’s Silence on Appointing of Media Officer

Jammeh Bojang

The Gambia’s football governing body, GFA is still not making any decision in appointing a media officer, who will take control of the media affairs during news coverage and international games at the independence stadium.
It could be recalled that there were several controversies between Gambian sports journalists and the Gambia Football Association during the recent international games - Namibia and Ivory Coast respectively.
Some media personnel were denied entry into the stadium and others were denied access to conduct interviews with players. In protest, the sports journalist fraternity, except The Daily Observer sports boycotted the games.
The question that arose was whether it was the GFA who has empowered the security to stop the press from conducting its legitimate duty of informing the public. The matter was later settled as the GFA called the press and apologised.
However, such incidents are bound to emerge again and again as long as GFA does not appoint a press officer to take care of media-related issues.
FIFA officials, including Jacqueline Sipanga and Haidi Store who served as facilitators in the just concluded three day sports seminar at the Kairaba Beach Hotel have implored on the GFA to appoint a press officer.
Sipanga for instance, outlined that there is and will be no development of there is no press monitoring and covering sporting events. Therefore, she said, the GFA needs to find a media officer as soon as possible.
It is absurd that the Gambian media is only considered a priority before events, but considered the least at the end of events.
GFA technical director Kebba Masanneh Ceesay and the Secretary General Jammeh EK Bojang both said in front of 150 participants  at that training exercise that they are really working hard to make sure that they appoint a press officer.
The excuse they gave was that are yet to get a competent applicant for the post. They said they are looking for a person for the post but still cannot find a competent guy to fill in the position.
This was largely seen by media practitioners as an unacceptable excuse, and the media fraternity is poised to embark on another boycott with any uncalled-for behavior from the GFA towards journalists.   
The president of the Gambia Football Association in an interview with a local media expounded on the importance of the media in sports and its development. In his own words, if there is no media coverage, the general public will get not to know about sporting events.
But the message here is that if he knows that, then he should appoint a press officer.
Talking about the access of the press to get into the stadium, he said that they can’t control the entrance of the stadium as the security is responsible for that.
Similar comments were made by the Secretary General of GFA Jammeh EK Bojang who was speaking in a sports show on West Coast Radio.
This begs the question as to whether the GFA is an independent body. In my view, the GFA should be given the mandate to control the entire affairs of football in the Gambia. Neither the government nor the security should unnecessarily intervene in the affairs of football in the country, especially in determining who enters or not in the stadium.
It could even be recalled that when the World Cup Trophy visited the Gambia, can you imagine that the president of GFA, Seedy Kinteh did not to even touch the trophy in front of thousands of spectators in the international stadium.
The trophy was given to President Jammeh, Sports minister but not the GFA supremo.
Speakers of the ceremony were Alex Da Costa, the then Interim President of the National Sports Council, Biri Biri, a retired Gambian international footballer, Minister Gomez, FIFA officials and President Jammeh.
As it is normally known to every nation, the FA president should take responsibility of everything that comes into a particular country in the name of football, which is the formula of giving the devil its due.
Author Abdoulie Nget

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