Monday, November 18, 2019

THE BIG STORY: Accused of Fraud and Age-Cheating –The Survival Chances of Gambian Footballer Bakery

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By Sulayman Bah

A footballer’s career risk going down the drain if the substance of allegation heaped on the accused turns out to be an established fact. Fraud everywhere is a matter given utmost focus, in the case of Gambia’s Bakery Jatta, a saga of huge proportion.

It’s a moment of keeping fingers crossed for Jatta and his circle of bosoms.

When the story broke and allegations of fraud topped the surface a week ago of a possible involvement of a severe football infringement, at Hamburg Football Club, it inevitably turned the juicy bits of back pages. The news went viral owing to two reasons: it’s happening at the very pinnacle of the German game and on account the player at the heart of it all is a potential big name –in the words of some of the European tabloids –a future Bayern Munich buy.

Widely read portal BILD picked up the story running a full page of it in its 5th August Monday edition. Embedded in the article is a collage of photos of a player they said was Bakery Jatta whom they claimed was playing under the pretext of Bakary Daffeh, giving the Gambian’s first name a differing spelling. The pictures spread out in the German media outlet were supported by links they said were extracted from media outlets in The Gambia, insinuating the wide-man was born 1995 and not the June 6th 1998 he claims. In BILD’s assertion, the Hamburg forward would be 23-year-old and not 21, suggesting a possible case of fraud and age-cheating. When the article, given a front page treatment, made its way to the public, it found Bakery at the Volkspark Stadion, Hamburg’s home venue, on training.

The magnitude of the charges prompted an impromptu meeting between Jatta’s coach Dieter Hecking and chairman Bernd Heffman which was followed by a face-to-face with the player and his agent Efe Aktas to hear their version of events.

Typical of situations of this nature, the attacker is ordered to desist from granting interviews until investigations are finalised.

BILD did not reveal their source amid ubiquitous reports the Dutch publication are being fed by an unnamed Senegalese outfit  claiming ownership of the Gambian player and who are exasperated over Hamburg’s reported refusal to pay them a part of the transfer fee.

If the furore is to be relied, it begs the million dollar question of who owns the actual rights of the winger. Fraud cases are not uncommon in Berlin owing to the influx of undocumented migrants into the European country seeking pastures new.

Hamburg acquired the services of Jatta on trial who was 17 years plucked from a refugee camp having braved the Mediterranean Sea to enter the European capital.

German laws and its red-tape over the legal registration of a refugee meant Jatta’s case being settled at a law court who, for sporting reasons, gave the go-ahead for Hamburg to acquire the player’s services on professional terms.

Fast forward to the scenario playing in recent days, the saga could take a complex posturing.

So What Are the Chances of Jatta Surviving?

Players entangled in a web of controversy are often handed a break from first team duties to attend to whatever that’s taking a toll on them. But in an extraordinary move, Jatta was left to integrate with the first-teamers, appearing to show Hamburg’s growing confidence in the striker and a solid likelihood of their key sensation winning the saga hovering his shoulders.

Reaction of the club faithful hasn’t only been epic but emotional as thousands rallied to show support to a key player whose story has changed general perception of refugees in Germany.

Foroyaa Sport understands the goal-getter was summoned to the office of the German football headquarters in Frankfurt am Maim for questioning last Thursday. The DFB, initial for German football governing set up, have reportedly asked the player submit in writing, his reply to the allegations of fraud directed towards him with a judgment on the case anticipated this week.

Photo: A scanned copy of Bakery’s German document

In making a ruling, the disciplinary committee will look into dossiers of the player, including data about him as provided by FIFA and story links on the internet.

The Gambia Football Federation could also potential weigh into the matter including the Hamburg district office.

Meanwhile, BILD is left red-faced after reporting the weblinks in which burden of their proof lie, have been allegedly taken down.

In a latest development Jatta was fielded last Friday from the start in Hamburg’s 1-0 win over Bochum in the second tier.

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