By IAfrica
In Gambia
May 28th, 2014

The Gambia has ruled out the possibility of taking its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS, before CAF can overturn its two-year suspension imposed on the country, saying simply that the Federation will put all evidences against the continental body to prove its innocence.

The Football Federation president, Mustapha Kebbeh, made the remarks, while speaking to BBC Sports in an interview yesterday after the Confederation of African Football informed the British broadcaster that there is no appeals procedure for the Gambia’s suspension because the decision was taken by its executive committee.

Following the country’s disqualification from the 2015 African Youth Championship for fielding five overage players in a qualifier against Liberia in April, CAF announced at the start of this month that they have banned The Gambia from all its competitions – including the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations – after ruling that Ali Sowe, born in June 1994, had been found to have registered in 2012 in the Confederation Cup with an identical passport number but a birth date going back to 1988.

CAF further told the BBC that The Gambia would either have to admit guilt and seek a pardon or take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But when BBC Sport relayed this information to Kebbeh, he declared his belief that it would not be necessary for The Gambia to pursue either of those options.

“We are going ahead to explain to our parent body in Africa and to show them all the evidence that there was not a deliberate intention in any way by The Gambia Football Federation or The Gambia to incorrectly certify age,” Kebbeh informed BBC Sports.

“We will show CAF all the evidence and I’m sure it will then be better placed to accept our explanation and reconsider its position. We are confident the suspension will be lifted,” he added.

Gambian clubs have also been affected by the ban and if CAF upholds its decision, they will also be barred from playing in continental football competitions for two years. Speaking further, Kebbeh insisted that the double registration was as a result of an administrative error and that there has been no wrongdoing.

“It was purely an administrative error from years ago – I am sure there is some misunderstanding somewhere. We have written to CAF to explain to them and appeal against the decision against The Gambia,” he told BBC Sport. “The ban is something we are not happy with and it’s a decision that we think should not be inflicted on The Gambia.”

If the decision to suspend the country is overturned by CAF, it is still unclear what the fate of the various national teams who were barred from contesting in the competitions they have registered to participate in will be. The Scorpions were scheduled to play Seychelles on May 17th in the AFCON preliminaries while the Baby Scorpions were also registered in the African U-17 championship.

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