The President of Wallidan Football Club Alieu Ceesay has frowned at the Gambia Football Federation for warning him against shisha smoking in the VIP area during football games.
On Tuesday, the GFF through its Competition Department issued a statement asking Ceesay not to smoke shisha in the VIP area of the Independence Stadium in Bakau and other football veneus during GFF-sanctioned matches. “Being the President of Wallidan Football Club and as a stakeholder in national football development, high standards are expected of you,” the statement warned. “Smoking shisha in the VIP area is unacceptable. It is unhealthy and invasive for others around.”
In response, Ceesay accused the GFF of witch hunt, arguing he was not aware of any GFF rule that bans spectators or VIPs from smoking while watching football in any area of the field.
“I’m not aware that there is a ban on smoking shisha, cigarette or any tobacco product in any part of the Gambia Football Federation rules”.
“As the only individual receiving a letter as such, I take this as a witch-hunt, pettiness, personal, discriminatory and hypocritical which is totally out of line in the football world. To tell me of what to do regarding my health, I believe is a non factoring issue, especially coming from the GFF, which is a football regulatory body and not a health inspector or a doctor,” Ceesay said.
The issue has generated some reactions from football fans. Babucarr Gaye, an ardent national league follower has challenged the GFF to propose a rule change to implement the smoke-free policy which will be passed to all stakeholders.
“The football federation cannot just jump and warn or ban people from smoking at match venues,” he told The Chronicle. “It has to start from somewhere. A document should be drafted to make it a rule, and then you can start fining or even exempting people from occupying the VIP area.”