Sierra Leone: FIFA wades into Sierra Leone "football politics"

Freetown, Sierra Leone (PANA) - Six months after the FIFA secretary general, Fatma Samoura, Sierra Leone on a mission to resolve a festering internal dispute, the annual congress of Sierra Leone Football Associetion (SLFA), scheduled for Friday to pave the way for elections, has been suspended by the world football governing body.

According to local media reports, FIFA cited unresolved issues relating to the dispute between the current SLFA executive led by its campaigning female leader, Isha Johansen, and her opponents.

Johansen’s term of office expires on 3 August and FIFA said in a letter that Congress must be delayed until a task force it set up carries out the necessary integrity checks.

“The implementation of integrity checks to current, and potential SLFA executive members have not been carried out. Judicial bodies and administrative officials registered under the SLFA must also undergo an integrity scrutiny,” the FIFA letter said.

“The FIFA members association committee resolved that a task force be created composed of representatives of FIFA, CAF, SLFA and the Ministry of Sports to look into issues in relation to integrity of matches,” FIFA added.

According to the reports, Johansen, who has faced a barrage of criticism from opponents in her attempt to weed out corruption and match fixing, is a member of FIFA’s member associations committee which took the decision to postpone and which is chaired by Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad.

It is a committee whose composition and integrity have been questioned by a number of federations, including Australia in its most recent spat with FIFA’s giovernance requirements.

FIFA said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by Samoura, Sierra Leone’s minister of sport, Ahmed Khanou, and Johansen “had not been adhered to and as a result the same problems appear to remain unresolved”.

Sierra Leone football has been dogged by political interference and internal splits and it was little surprise that Khanou expressed his disappointment at FIFA’s position.

“I’m shocked, devastated and disappointed at FIFA as I was supposed to have been the first port of call as moral guarantor,” Khanou said, adding “I’m surprised because as moral guarantor I didn’t send any complaint to FIFA and neither am I aware of any complaint by the SLFA. Sierra Leone is a sovereign state and should not be held to ransom.

He said the Congress must go on as planned.

“I’ve requested the SLFA to send me a copy of the FIFA letter since I was not copied, and I’ll take it to my boss, President Ernest Koroma, and government will then come out with a position.”

Aggrieved members of the SLFA expressed similar sentiments.

“The SLFA has its constitution which is the regulatory instrument. Holding of the ordinary congress is a constitutional requirement,” said one leading member, Idrissa Tarawally.

“I really don’t understand how someone in his right senses relate the holding of an ordinary congress to an integrity test.”
-0- PANA VAO 11July2017

11 july 2017 13:33:44

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