SPORTS

Gamel Saga: Women Speak Out

National women footballers have spoken out against head coach Christophe Gamel, saying he allegedly mocked them for their weight and physical appearance. They want the team officials who allegedly witnessed
27 Jan 2019 09:58
Gamel Saga: Women Speak Out
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... National football coach Christophe Gamel.

National women footballers have spoken out against head coach Christophe Gamel, saying he allegedly mocked them for their weight and physical appearance.

They want the team officials who allegedly witnessed his alleged behaviour to be sacked for what they view as them not raising a voice.

The under-fire coach was sent a detailed e-mail and text message on Friday (Jan 25) seeking his response to a number of allegations made against him by the players. The questions remained unanswered.

He was sent another e-mail yesterday requesting a response either through email or a phone or face-to-face interview. He did not respond by the time this edition went to press.

SUNsports yesterday exposed the coach’s alleged abuses, including alleged assault of youth players and bullying.

The female players say Gamel allegedly told them to grow their hair because keeping it short made them look like men, and he only wanted women in the team.

Three senior members of the team spoke to SUNsports under the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals and suspension.

 

‘I can slap you in front of your parents’

One player’s alleged experience with the coach was particularly scary.

Gamel allegedly stormed into the bedroom of her Ba home last year and threatened to slap her in front of her parents if she did not come to camp.

SUNsports understands it was Gamel’s alleged behaviour in the first place that made the player afraid of coming to camp.

“I just don’t like the way he treats us, because we’re the women’s national team and we deserve respect too,” one of the players said.

“I feel like if we were all boys, he would have hit us by now.”

The players say they never reported Gamel because they thought he could have used his influence as head coach to suspend them and ruin their careers.

These sentiments echo those made by youth players Amena Bola, Kalaveti Sivoi, Kini Madigi, Simione Nabenu and Sekove Finau who Gamel allegedly assaulted in Ba on January 16.

Fiji Football Association (FFA) president Rajesh Patel has remained silent on the issue so far.

There is growing pressure on him to issue a statement regarding the coach, given the serious nature of the allegations.

FFA’s solicitor, Samuel Ram, has issued a brief statement, saying they would investigate the allegations of assault against Gamel.

It is unclear whether the allegations made by the women’s team will also be investigated.

 

Sports minister to comment

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Parveen Bala will issue a statement on the allegations tomorrow.

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has also said they will investigate all allegations if a report is lodged.

 

New Caledonia

The women’s team exceeded expectation last year at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in New Caledonia by beating Papua New Guinea 5-1 to reach the final.

However, the players have accused Gamel of allegedly being abusive and threatening throughout the trip.

They allege he told the team’s goalkeeper she was ‘pathetic’ and ‘not good enough’ at half-time during Fiji’s match against PNG.

He later allegedly told her she did not deserve the 2018 OFC Women’s Nations Cup golden glove award.

One player alleges Gamel told her “she didn’t f***ing deserve to be here (in the team).”

“He has the knowledge but we’re afraid of him because of the way he treats us,” the player said.

“It’s so frustrating that we talk about ganging up against the officials nearly every day when we are in camp.”

 

Turning a blind eye

The players also accuse Marika Rodu, officially the women’s head coach, of what they saw as him allegedly turning a blind eye to Gamel’s behaviour.

Rodu was also sent an email on Friday (Jan 25) and yesterday detailing the allegations against him and asking him for a response. He has not responded.

It is alleged that Rodu never spoke out against Gamel when he allegedly abused and threatened the players.

The women allege Rodu tried to play down the alleged incidents by allegedly joking about it.

They allege he would come and console them later when Gamel was not around but never once raised his voice in front of him.

The players accuse Rodu of allegedly aiding and abetting Gamel’s alleged aggressive and violent attitudes towards them.

They allege he had no say in the team, despite officially being the head coach, and only followed what Gamel said.

Gamel and Rodu did not to respond to any of the allegations by the time this edition went to press.

National women's team coach Marika Rodu.

National women’s team coach Marika Rodu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allegations by the Women include:

  • Several female players accuse him of allegedly swearing, and threats of physical violence.
  • Allegedly told some female players he would have hit them by now if they were men.
  • Allegedly called the goalkeeper pathetic during half-time of the semi-final match against PNG in New Caledonia during the 2018 OFC Women’s Nations Cup.
  • Allegedly told the keeper she did not deserve the 2018 OFC Women’s Nations Cup golden glove award.
  • He allegedly stormed into a player’s house at the FSC compound in Ba last year before a scheduled training camp and threatened to slap her in front of her parents if she did not attend camp.
  • Has allegedly made several players in the team cry on numerous occasions after alleged verbal abuse and many of them are allegedly scared to attend camp because of his alleged aggressive behaviour
  • He allegedly told the young women he is trying to toughen them up mentally
  • He allegedly called some young women fat pigs while they were eating. The young women allege he regularly mocks them for their weight and physical appearance.

 

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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