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Activists: Christophe Gamel Findings ‘Unacceptable’

Fiji FA president Rajesh Patel did not respond to Fiji SUN’s queries on March 18 regarding the investi­gations, including the make-up of the committee looking into the al­legations.
23 Mar 2019 12:01
Activists: Christophe Gamel Findings ‘Unacceptable’
Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher Roshika Deo.

The Amnesty International’s Fiji representative Roshika Deo and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shami­ma Ali have rejected a Fiji Football Association inquiry that cleared national coach Christophe Gamel of assault and bullying allegations against players.

Some media reported yesterday that Gamel has been cleared by a body that looked into the allega­tions.

Fiji FA president Rajesh Patel did not respond to Fiji SUN’s queries on March 18 regarding the investi­gations, including the make-up of the committee looking into the al­legations.

Ali questioned the independence of the committee and said the find­ings were “not acceptable.” She renewed calls for an independent inquiry.

“I encourage the affected players to seek other avenues for justice if they don’t accept the outcome,” she added.

“We can’t do anything until the players complain to us or the (Fiji) Human Rights Commission.”

Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher, Roshika Deo, also called for an impartial investiga­tion.

She said the members of the com­mittee should be independent of the persons being investigated or the employer of the person being investigated.

“This allows the people aggrieved to feel more comfortable complain­ing without the fear of reprisals or the fear of being interviewed in a defensive and disabling manner.”

Patel again did not respond to fresh questions sent to him yester­day. His solicitor, Samuel Ram, in­stead issued a brief reply.

He said: “We have instructed Mr (Rajesh) Patel, Mr (Mohammed) Yu­suf (FFA CEO) and Mr (Christophe) Gamel not to respond to your ques­tions as we are considering legal ac­tion against Fiji SUN for the vari­ous publications.”

Ali: “(The committee was) not in­dependent if Patel (was) present. (The process) has to be transpar­ent.”

It is claimed that the coach alleg¬edly called national women’s team goalkeeper Ateca Tuwai “pa­thetic” and “not good enough” at half-time during Fiji’s OFC Wom­en’s Nations Cup semi-final against Papua New Guinea last year.

The female players allege Gamel told them to grow their hair be­cause keeping it short made them look like men.

Patel has said FFA will not inves­tigate the claims made by the fe­male players because they did not lodge official complaints.

“If allegations have surfaced, it is the responsibility of FFA to still in­vestigate the complaints especially given the challenges that women in sports experience due to the patriarchal nature of most sports bodies, system and processes,” Deo said.

“It is important that FFA looks into strengthening its policies and processes to ensure that their em­ployees are gender sensitised, there is a anti-harassment policy in place and investigating bodies are inde­pendent.”

The Fiji SUN spoke to close to 20 people on the alleged conduct of coach Gamel.

This included testimonies of eight players – five U23 and three national women’s team players – seven par­ents and several district officials.

What FFA’s solicitor has said in response to our questions:

Fiji FA has made it very clear from previous press releases that the in­vestigation may be referred to the Ethics Committee (which is an inde­pendent body).

Your email being copied to one member appears to be an attempt to influence that member before it even gets to him.

It amounts to an interference with Fiji FA’s internal process. This will be taken up formally later.

The Media Code of Ethics and Practice (“Code”) requires you to give an opportunity to reply. It does not appear that you are personally seeking a reply to anything.

You are requesting a response to something someone else said. Who is this someone else?

You are obliged to answer the ques­tions posed by me before you publish an article on this. FijiFA cannot comment on or reply to an unknown accuser.

To ask them to do so is unfair.

It is evident that the person who al­legedly gave you this information (if such a person exists) is biased.

The question could have been posed reasonably; instead, it is loaded with innuendo.

In the past, you have published questions which included incorrect and defamatory facts.

This is how you and Fiji SUN has approached this issue, and it is one of the bases on which court proceed­ings are being considered.

The information you have received is incorrect.

The manner in which your ques­tion is posed undermines the hard work by everyone involved in the in­vestigation process.

The so-called “information” names people who are not part of the com­mittee; which is a blatant attempt to sensationalise the issue unfairly and to undermine the preliminary find­ings.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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