Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 October 2018:
World’s football governing body FIFA, yesterday rejected Sierra Leone’s appeal for its ban on taking part in FIFA organised football activities to be lifted.
Responding to a letter from the government of Sierra Leone, which ironically was signed by the suspended head of Sierra Leone’s Football Association – Mrs Isha Johansen, FIFA told the government of Sierra Leone that it will only consider lifting the ban after the government of Sierra Leone has reinstated both Johansen and the SLFA Secretary General Chris Kamara.
The frantic exchange of letters yesterday between FIFA and the government of Sierra Leone, came after a meeting held at State House in Freetown, chaired by the government’s Chief Minister – Professor Francis.
According to the government, the aim of the State House meeting which was attended by Sierra Leone’s football stakeholders and Mrs Johansen, was to open up dialogue between the government and the suspended bosses of the country’s FA who are being investigated for alleged corruption by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
But many in Sierra Leone are accusing the government of witch hunt, an accusation denied by the country’s Anti-Corruption Czar who is heading the investigation into alleged corruption by Sierra Leone’s football governing bosses.
Speaking at the State House meeting, Chief Minister Francis was bellicose about the government’s response to FIFA’s decision to ban Sierra Leone from world football, accusing FIFA of meddling in the internal affairs of the country.
“Government of Sierra Leone will sponsor a high-powered delegation to FIFA, including critical stakeholders to tell FIFA that Sierra Leone is a Sovereign State and we cannot go against our laws……. If you don’t like our government please do not disgrace your country………..this nonsense will soon end……..No individual is bigger than Sierra Leone………….Let the legal process continue and we are not going to interfere…………
“Sierra Leone is sovereign state and it doesn’t bow to any international force………….FIFA is a corrupt institution. How dare you tell Sierra Leone to bow down………We are behind the ACC and no external force will take us back………Those who believe FIFA is important, be it so. The suspension is there, and we cannot succumb to FIFA,” the Chief Minister is reported to have told the State House meeting.
Then came the decision at the meeting for a letter to be written by the government and signed by the government’s suspended Mrs Isha Johansen to FIFA, asking FIFA to lift its ban.
The meeting also agreed that the Chief minister will lead a delegation comprising of the sports minister, Isha Johansen, Chris Kamara and key stakeholders, sponsored by the government to go to FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, where FIFA will be told on no uncertain terms that Sierra Leone is a Sovereign state and its laws must be followed.
FIFA’s response to the letter from the government of Sierra Leone which many believed Mrs Isha Johansen was coerced into signing, was unequivocal, giving the government of Sierra Leone just hours to reinstate Mrs Johansen and Chris Kamara before any consideration can be given to lifting the FIFA ban.
Ghana’s Black Stars are scheduled to host Sierra Leone’s football team – Leone Stars tomorrow, Thursday 11th October, at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
Both Isha Johansen and Mr Chris Kamara are yet to be reinstated in their posts by the government of Sierra Leone. FIFA’s decision to ban Sierra Leone from all international football activities remains in force. And the government of Sierra Leone says it will not budge. The stalemate continues.
Isha Johansen and Mr Chris Kamara are being investigated by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission for allegations of corruption. You can listen to the Anti-Corruption Czar – Ben Kaifala, speaking on Africa Voice of America Radio this morning:
You can read the letter sent to FIFA and the SLFA press statement below: