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GFF blames racketeers for Saturday stadium congestion


The leadership of the Gambia Football Federation has blamed the overcrowding of the Independence Stadium on Saturday on racketeers who they claimed have copied their tickets and sold it for “financial gains”.

Gambia played against Algeria in a match that ended 1-1 but the Stadium was overcrowded.

Angry fans some of whom could not have a space on the pavilions blamed the GFF for selling more tickets than the Stadium could take.

But the GFF said at a press conference on Wednesday that their tickets were copied.

“Even though the printers assured us that the tickets are secured and cannot be copied, certain groups and individuals took advantage of the early release of the tickets and reproduced it for financial gains. The GFF was able to intercept some of these tickets for evidence,” said the GFF secretary general Lamin Jassey.

“When unauthorized people were seen selling tickets outside of the Stadium, they were approached but their explanations were that they bought those tickets in bulk for family members who decided not to watch the games at the eleventh hour and they were forced to resell.

“Many people came to the Stadium without tickets and when they couldn’t purchase one, they forced themselves in and in the process broke the Stadium gate, thus overpowering the security.

“Some people who were trusted with the mandate to cut the tickets into two halves before fans would enter, actually collected the tickets without cutting them and went ahead to resell them for financial gains.

“All those fans that were seen sitting on the floodlights throughout the course of the game, and most of those under the pavilions had no tickets with them and were aided by the greedy people for financial gains.

“As a result of this, we found some shortcomings on the side of the GFF security sub-committee in the execution of their duties.

“Furthermore, when the GFF realized that if nothing was done to stop people from entering the pavilions, it could lead to catastrophic consequences and it was at that point that the decision was taken to de-crowd the numbers on pavilions and asked them to stand under the pavilions to avert a possible stampede.”

Meanwhile, Jassey said the GFF leadership has held a meeting on the issue on Tuesday to prevent recurrence.

Built in 1983, Gambia’s stadium takes 35, 000 people at the time but now that has been reduced to 24, 700.

The GFF have not made any commitment to pursue the matter with the police since the incident could have caused a stampede.

The match which should have started at 4:30p.m. has had to wait until 6p.m. because of the overcrowding of the Stadium.

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