SPORTS

Take Action, Rajesh

Fiji FA president told to stop hiding behind lawyer and show leadership The allegations don’t seem to be a one-off. It has been ongoing, and has come from the male
29 Jan 2019 10:56
Take Action, Rajesh
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali.
  • Fiji FA president told to stop hiding behind lawyer and show leadership
  • The allegations don’t seem to be a one-off. It has been ongoing, and has come from the male and female players. I would fully back an investigation by an independent team-Shamima Ali

 

A leading women’s rights activist has called on Fiji Football Association president Rajesh Patel to stop hiding behind lawyers.

Shamima Ali said Patel should clarify issues surrounding the serious allegations of assault and bullying of players by national coach Christophe Gamel.

Ali also called for the suspension of the coach to make way for an independent inquiry into his alleged behaviour.

“The leaders should make a stand now, instead of hiding,” the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator said.

“That, at this late stage, the leaders are still refusing to comment is totally unacceptable. People in charge must assure the players and the public that they are taking this seriously.

“The allegations don’t seem to be a one-off. It has been ongoing, and has come from the male and female players. I would fully back an investigation by an independent team.”

SUNsports exposed Gamel’s alleged assault and bullying on Saturday (January 26).

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

The Fiji Sun spoke to Patel yesterday in a brief phone call.

He maintained that FFA will not comment on any allegations until investagations are complete.

He added: “You’ll see what’s coming.”

Fiji FA chief executive officer Mohammed Yusuf has also referred all questions to their solicitor, Samuel Ram.

Ram issued a brief statement last Friday (January 25), saying Fiji FA would conduct an internal investigation, but will make no comments until it is complete.

Gamel is alleged to have assaulted and abused nine Under-23 national triallists on Wednesday (January 16) after they allegedly tested positive for drugs.

Ali has strongly rejected suggestions the players deserved what Gamel allegedly did because they allegedly took drugs.

“I don’t believe a coach or manager’s job description says they can take them to task in this manner,” she said.

“If they have committed a crime, you report them but definitely not denigrating or humiliating people like he has (allegedly) done.”

Ali also believes that sporting bodies needed to vet people better before bringing them into the country for major roles.

“The people in charge must take responsibility to ensure the sport goes ahead and people who participate and so on are protected,” she said.

“Sports is very important for Fiji and, as far as the women are concerned, we have a gender policy in this country encouraging women to participate in all areas of life.

“Action needs to be taken and all various other stakeholders should come on board and demand an investigation into this.” -Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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