Liberian player signed to Maldivian football club “trapped” in Male’ after salary dispute

A Liberian striker brought in to play for a Maldivian football club has spoken of his desperation as he remains trapped in the Maldives with no money and no ticket home.

Wright Charles Gaye, a former striker for Maldivian football club Club Valencia, has spent the last six months living in poverty after the club failed to provide him with two month’s owed salary and a promised one-way ticket home.

Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday (March 7), the 27-year-old Liberian national revealed how he had been forced to live in accommodation with no water or electricity, having to survive on handouts from club officials and other players.

“It has been terrible. I am owed US$2,600 and a one-way-ticket home to Liberia, but for six months I have received nothing.

“It’s hard because I have family back in Africa. They are looking to me because I have to send money back. My son is no longer is school because I don’t have the money to send home,” Charles said.

The issue has now attracted the attention of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), after Charles lodged a formal complaint to the international organisation.

A letter from FIFA calls for the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) to provide Club Valencia’s position on the claim lodged by Charles no later than March 25.

FAM was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Charles, who has played for multiple clubs in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Liberia, claimed that Valencia’s Chairman Ibrahim Raai Rasheed had told him not to put anything in the news regarding his situation.

“He [Rasheed] is going around telling people that everything is okay for me. But if you want to believe that you can come and see my apartment.

“A former official from the club is giving me MVR 500 (US$32) a week because he feels sorry for me. It’s hard to survive on, but I feel ashamed to be calling for help,” he added.

The Liberian striker said that he had been recently moved into a guest house by his former club after he complained about the lack of electricity and water at his apartment.

Charles claimed that Rasheed had made multiple “promises” to the striker, assuring him that he would be given his wages and a flight home, but each time the chairman did not deliver.

“Sometimes the chairman would call me and say ‘Charles pack your things, you are leaving tomorrow, get your money together and get ready’, so when I pack and call him back, he doesn’t pick up. This has happened two or three times,” Charles said.

“In December I was told I would be leaving on December 23 and would arrive on December 25 on Christmas morning. It meant I would see my son and would get to spend Christmas with him. But over the next few days he was not taking my calls. When he did eventually pick up, he would just say ‘I’m busy, I’ll call you back,” he added.

Club Valencia responds

Responding to the footballer’s claims, Club Valencia Management – when contacted by Minivan News – said that Charles will be paid his full wages and will be given a ticket home to Liberia in Africa.

“There has been a lot of miscommunication recently. Charles has communicated with me on only a few things, but I feel bad for him,” a club official claimed. “His salary and ticket home is now all sorted had he will be returning home.”

The club’s management denied that Charles’ apartment was without running water and electricity, adding that they had written proof of utility bills for the months he had stayed there.

The reason behind the delay in Charles’ payments – according to Club Valencia Management – was that there had been delays in financial assistance from the sports ministry and from the club’s sponsorship.

Despite Valencia’s claims of financial hardship, the Liberian striker claimed that the club had recently brought in three foreign new players and a new coach for the team.

“[Valencia] must have the money. If they don’t, how can they bring in these new players, put them in a big hotel and let them eat in good restaurants? How can they do all that and not pay me?” Charles said.

Club Valencia Management confirmed that three new players and a coach had been taken on by the club.

Life as a foreign footballer in the Maldives

Wright Charles Gaye came to the Maldives four years ago after being signed by New Radiant SC, where he experienced similar pay disputes with the club before transferring to VB Addu FC – known as VB Sport Club until January 2012.

Following a complaint to the Football Association of Maldives over a lack of pay for six months, Charles was eventually paid by New Radiant SC in November 2012.

The striker joined Valencia in the June 2012 transfer period, and started playing in July until the clubs last game on September 28.

Having allegedly only received one month’s pay for July, Charles then left the club and has been waiting for a promised ‘one-way-ticket’ home and his remaining two month salary.

“When you first come to the Maldives as a player, they talk to you nicely and treat you well, but as soon as you sign the papers, it all finishes.

“Some Maldivian players have the same issue, I know two or three players from different clubs who have had payment problems, but for the foreign players it is worse,” Charles said.

The Liberian national also revealed how certain clubs retain foreign player’s passports over concern that the players will buy their own tickets and fly home.

“I have a friend who played here from Cameroon and the club hid his passport, and would not return it when he asked for it back.

“Whenever you ask for your passport they would give you a story, maybe say that is being kept in immigration. They have asked for mine before, but I know what would happen if I gave it them,” Charles alleged.

Addendum: Wright Charles Gaye subsequently contacted Minivan News to say Valencia had paid the US$2,600, an additional one month’s salary and had booked him a one-way flight to Liberia.



Pakistan pledges support to Maldivian cricket development

Pakistan has provided cricket equipment to the Maldives in a bid to further promote the sport across the nation, the Press Trust of India (PTI) has reported.

The equipment was handed over the Maldivian Cricket Board by Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani to assist in developing national sport.

Jilani added that Pakistan would also continue to provide academic assistance in the country.


Maldivian students in Malaysia host futsal tournament

Maldivian students in Malaysia will hold an annual futsal tournament, the Krolickz Raajje Cup, in Malaysia at the Subang Grand Sports Planet, Sunway.

The one day event this Saturday April 30 begins at 9am in the morning until 8pm that evening. 21 teams will take part in the event, with many players travelling to Malaysia from Male’.

The event is sponsored by Krolickz, a Malaysia based education consultant agency, which represents a number of colleges and universities in Malaysia. Other sponsors include Malaysian university Segi University College and several Maldivian companies, including Happy Market Traders, Airplus Travel and Tours, Net Solutions and one Malaysian university Segi University College.

Futsal is an indoor game similar to five-a-side football, played with a smaller ball with less bounce that a conventional football.


Maldives victory ensures 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification

An own goal from Maldivian midfielder Assad Abdul Ghani was not enough to dent the country’s hopes of reaching the 2012  Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup finals as it overcame Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in Male’ yesterday to guarantee a spot in the upcoming tournament.

Male’ has this week been playing host to all the Group C qualifying matches that will decide which two teams out of the Maldives, Tajikistan, Cambodia and Kyrgyzstan will be among the finalists to contest next year’s Challenge Cup.

After already beating Cambodia 4-0 at Male’s national stadium on Monday (21 March), Ali Ashadh further added to the home side’s goal tally within five minutes of yesterday’s game.  That goal remained the difference between the two teams until the second half when Shamweel Qasim appeared to put the contest beyond doubt in the 79th minute.

The visitors had been reduced to ten men three minutes before the second goal after Azmat Baimatov was sent off, yet the game still ended with the potential for Kyrgyzstan to spring some points after Ghani’s error bought the deficit to within a single goal with three minutes remaining.  Despite the potential pressure, the Maldivian players were able to hold on to win the game, setting up a top of the table clash for its final group match on Friday in Male’ against Tajikistan.

During the other Group C qualifying match held in the capital yesterday, Tajikistan managed to put three goals past a Cambodian side that had already been soundly beaten by the host nation.

Cambodia were a goal down by the second minute of the match following a strike by Nurriddin Davronov, but managed to staunchly defended its goal-line well into the second half until two goals within the last ten minutes of the game from Ibragim Rabimov and Pulod Koridov ensured the victors would be joining the Maldives in the AFC Challenge Cup finals.

The Maldives will now compete with seven other nations including India, Turkmenistan and fellow Group C rival Tajikistan in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup.  A host nation has not yet been selected for the tournament, but a venue is expected to be drawn from among one of the eight finalists under AFC rules.

The last AFC Challenge Cup tournament held in Sri Lanka during February 2010 was eventually won by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


Maldives trounced in second-leg Olympic qualifier

Hong Kong soundly saw off the Maldives yesterday for a place in the second round of the Asian football qualifying matches for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, scoring three goals that allowed them ultimately to finish 7-0 victors over the course of two matches.

Three goals, all scored within the first half of the second leg match, allowed Hong Kong to confidently move into the next round of qualifiers to be drawn against other victorious teams from the around region at the end of the month.

Already four goals down from their first encounter in Hong Kong, any hopes for a Maldivian comeback were extinguished within twenty minutes of yesterday’s game when Lam Hok Hei netted his first goal of the match. Stephen Ha added to the score line four minutes later and a third was later claimed by Lam in the closing minutes of the first half.


Maldives to host country’s first international games in September

The Maldives’ much lauded sands and waters will host the country’s first ever international sports event this year, with the launch of an inaugural beach games event expected to run from 18 September to 25 September.

According to event organisers, the Maldives Beach Games 2011 will to bring hundreds of athletes from around the world to the country in order to compete in 10 sporting disciplines involving the sun, sand and surf of the Maldives.

The games were launched on Thursday night with a laser show and an appearance from renowned Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya at Male’s Kulhivaru Ekuveni Indoor Hall.

Speaking during the launch, Jayasuriya said he had been caught “off guard” when asked to give a speech upon arriving in Male’ earlier in the day, but having himself visited the Maldives a number of times, the cricketer said he believed the games would be a major opportunity to show off the country’s hospitality to the world.

“I’ve been to [the Maldives] before, quite a few times, and I know how you look after people and guests,” he said. “About 375 to 400 athletes will be here in Male’ competing at eight different locations and I hope [they] all will enjoy their stay and the games in 2011.”

The opening ceremony, which was held around a shipwreck set designed to emulate the Maldivian legend of the “Prince Koimala”, who was said to have first led the country after becoming shipwrecked, concluded with a light show that announced the events contested during the games as well as its slogan – “beat the beach”.

A wealth of events including triathlon, kabaddi, beach cricket, football and ‘volleyball’ along with body building, swimming, rowing, surfing and wind surfing will be contested during the games at eight different locations around the country yet to be identified.

In the lead up to the event, tourism authorities will seek to build active interest in the games among visitors.