16th December 2018
Sierra Leone/Ghana Match Off as FIFA Punishes SLPP for Political Interference!
By Abu Shaw in London (10/10/18)
A very sad day for Sierra Leone football fans following the suspension of tomorrow's match between Leone Stars and Ghana's Black Stars.
FIFA, the world football governing body, had given the Sierra Leone government a deadline to reinstate with immediate effect the suspended Sierra Leone Football Association President Isha Johansen and the FA's Secretary General Chris Kamara. (Photo: Mrs. Isha Johansen holding her face clearly showing signs of bullying during the letter writing as Chris Kamara looks on).
The deadline expired yesterday at 5pm Sierra Leone time and because the SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio failed to obey the FIFA rules, the Confederation of Africa Football CAF, carrying out FIFA regulations, has no alternative but to cancel the qualifying match between Sierra Leone and Ghana scheduled for Thursday October 11.
FIFA reportedly declined to lift the suspension imposed on Sierra Leone despite an appeal made in the eleventh hour by SLFA. This means that the first and return leg games for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana will no longer go ahead. (Photo: Chief Minister David Francis, far right, during the State House meet).
Observers believe the Sierra Leone government reacted too late to resolve this impasse on time. All started few months ago when the Anti-Corruption Commission, ACC, headed by Francis Ben Kaifala, raided the offices of SLFA in Freetown and suspended both Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara and even went further to bar them from using the FA facilities.
The ACC, eventually levied corruption charges on Isha and Chris, a move which infuriated FIFA big time. FIFA does not take lightly any form of political interference in football. FIFA did not waste time in asking the Sierra Leone government to immediately reinstate both FA officials but the stubborn SLPP government paid deaf ears.
On Monday, October 8, the panicky SLPP government hurriedly assembled a delegation to State House headed by Chief Minister Dr. David Francis to negotiate with FIFA. Surprisingly, Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara were invited to attend, and were even begged to write a letter to FIFA to convince them to allow the Leone Stars and Black Stars match to go ahead as slated. The letter made it clear that the government has started the process to sort the impasse out accordingly.
The letter was ridiculously endorsed and signed by the suspended Isha Johansen, but independent observers still think Isha was bullied in to endorsing it. Shortly after FIFA received the letter, they responded by ordering the Sierra Leone government to immediately reinstate both FA officials. This did not happen as the deadline came and went yesterday. Photo: Seated L-R- Isha, Sports Minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh and Professor David Francis).
Despite frantic efforts and correspondences behind the scenes over the past 24 hours to save the national team Leone Stars from being disqualified from participating in the AFCON Qualifiers against Ghana tomorrow, the stakeholders could not reach an amicable solution. Thus leaving the football fans in the country in total disappointment.
The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) was on standby to make an official announcement after the deadline yesterday. Now CAF has confirmed that the match will not go ahead as scheduled. This is good bye to Sierra Leone in next year's African Nations Cup tourney in Cameroon. Poor Leone Stars would have found it intricate to qualify anyway. Sad situation and worrying times for Sierra Leone football.
Courtesy: TheDawnOfANewEra, #OneSaloneOneFootballFamily, SLFA Media Department