By Sulayman Bah
Independence Stadium Manager Ebou Faye is at the centre of a furore amid accusations his office is preferentially treating football over athletics.
The accusations comes after the Gambia Athletics Association (GAA) twice received orders from the stadium manager’s office, asking for the annual national athletics championship, slated for this month, be postponed.
Foroyaa Sport understands, the GAA were first told to reschedule their event on grounds Gambia will be hosting Mali in a CHAN qualifier match before being recently asked to push their athletics event again owing to a Bakau local nawettan final.
News of the cancellations, didn’t sit well with athletes, prompting Gambia national team athletics captain Adama Jammeh questioning the move.
‘So the athletics national championship that (takes place) once in the year will not be on the said date because of (naweatan) football?
‘When are the athletes going to have that freedom to use the Gambia single track.NO to national (athletics) championship, No football!,’ Jammeh wrote on his timeline yesterday afternoon.
Adama’s complaints inevitably courted the attentions of many national athletes who also voiced dismay.
Weighing into the matter, the country’s athletics boss Dodou Capi Joof, slammed the decision to ask the GAA to reschedule its event to accommodate a football final as unfair.
He told Foroyaa Sport: ‘It’s not fair on us. The stadium belongs to all of us. The athletes are protesting. What can we do? We cannot tell them to go and take over the stadium. Last year too it happened because Gambia had international game so we had to cancel it. This time too, the same.’
He continued, ‘First we booked a date on the 15th July and we are told Gambia is playing Mali for the CHAN , so we canceled it. So we booked for the 17th and we’re told again there would be a Bakau local football final which is not fair on us. We have already booked for our certificates for the event and this has happened, so we have to reschedule it again. The athletes are protesting and they have right to.’
Sounded for his side of the story, stadium manager Ebou Faye said, the Gambia Football Federation made their schedule known to him first before the GAA.
‘Is simple. They (The Gambia Athletics Association) did not give the stadium their schedule. Football did. So football first booked the stadium and we gave it to them is not like it’s a preferential treatment. So they (the GAA) should do the same too. They have free access to the stadium.