By Paul Nicholson
September 6 – He failed FIFA’s integrity test that prevented him running for the presidency of the world governing body, but Liberian FA president Musa Bility is considered to have high enough moral standing to lead FIFA’s Sierra Leone Task Force that has the job of preparing the way for new elections in the country’s football association.
Bility, a highly controversial figure in his own country and FA and accused of multiple counts of corruption and mis-appropriation of FIFA funds, is a close ally of Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen who FIFA recognises and has been protected in the face of government intervention in the running of football.
Both Bility and Johansen are followers of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and key figures within the dismantling of the regime of former African confederation president Issa Hayatou. Their reward has been the protection of their own privileged status in their national federations despite significant and growing local stakeholder opposition. A reward that also return guarantees Infantino support for his increasing vice-like grip over world football politics and decision making.
A Sierra Leone high court last month ordered that Johansen stand down from SLFA duty as her mandate had expired August 3 and no electoral congress had been held. That interim court injunction was subsequently overturned and welcomed in a letter from FIFA to the SLFA on August 31.
“The objective of the first meeting is to assess the current situation and discuss next steps in view of paving the way for a timely holding of SLFA elections,” said the FIFA letter.
“The Task Force will provide assistance to the SLFA to put in place a process for integrity checks.”
FIFA and the Sierra Leone government had agreed that elections could not be held until integrity checks had been carried out, however, the results of those checks (if indeed they are being carried out) have not yet been released.
Johansen inherited a number of match-fixing scandals in Sierra Leone football when she took over. She has frequently warned that match-fixers and the betting industry are still too close to the governance of the game to be uncomfortable. In 2014 eleven officials and four Sierra Leone officials were suspended for match-fixing.
That has yet to be proved though the integrity checks should have no difficult drawing the links. Local opposition to Johansen claim it has become a too convenient excuse to protect her own position within the federation and prevent democratic process.
As well as Bility, the taks force will be comprosed of the SLFA’s Drucil Taylor, and FIFA’s head of development Veron Mosengo-Omba and Solomon Mudege. A yet to be confirmed Sierra Leone government official will also be on the task force.
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