October 2 – A new time frame for ending the bitter in-fighting that has plunged Sierra Leone football into turmoil has been agreed following a controversial FIFA task force visit to the capital Freetown.
The task force was headed by Liberian football chief Musa Bility, who failed an eligibility test to run for FIFA president yet was deemed suitable to decide the fate of Sierra Leone football under its embattled leader Isha Johansen, Africa’s only female FA boss.
Bility, a Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee member and President of the Liberia FA, told the BBC that all parties in the dispute have agreed to a road map to resolve the deep divisions that have brought the administration of the Sierra Leone FA (SLFA) to standstill, not least over a controversial election process that has been postponed, and continued match-fixing allegations by the SLFA executive and in particular by Johansen against those who oppose her.
“I’m very optimistic there’ll be peace. Hopefully there will be an end to the problem,” said Bility whose task force also included FIFA’s member associations committee director Vèron Mosengo Omba, Sierra Leone sports minister Ahmed Khanou and SLFA representative Drucil Taylor.
“I’m very glad to report that we’ve met all parties in Sierra Leone and they have now agreed on a comprehensive peace process that has set up a road map that will lead to elections.
“This includes the government of Sierra Leone, the SLFA, the aggrieved stakeholders along with FIFA. Everybody is on board and we are ready to achieve total peace and stability in Sierra Leone football.”
“FIFA will conduct an integrity check based on the FIFA code of ethics on the already elected judicial officials of the SLFA and those officials will conduct integrity checks in Sierra Leone by themselves.
“There’ll be two congresses that will lead to the adoption of a new SLFA statute and then an election of the electoral body that will conduct elections for the SLFA. We have made recommendation for a very fast process and hopefully the committee will come up with an answer within a week.”
Late last month the chaos intensified when the SLFA banned 19 officials from football activity in what was a response to the previous day’s indictment of Johansen on six corruption charges by the country’s anti-corruption commission. Over three years ago, 11 officials and four players were suspended for alleged match fixing allegations, all of whom have denied any wrongdoing.
“We agreed that the match fixing allegations that are currently on file in Sierra Leone will be turned over to FIFA who will directly investigate them and come up with their findings as soon as possible,” Bility added.
“FIFA has no intention to delve into Sierra Leone internal affairs or governance issue. We’re strictly about the management of Sierra Leonean football and as far as we’re concerned we set out to find a solution for that and that’s what we’re all going to stand by.”
The status of Johansen, whose mandate expired in August, remains unclear however. She is due in court on October 30 and although the anti-corruption bureau has called on her and the FA’s secretary-general to step down immediately, she is expected to remain in office until election of a new president.
A communique issued by the task force read as follows:
- The SLFA should adopt the FIFA code of ethics, with FIFA supporting this process.
- The members of the judicial bodies elected on the 23rd March 2017 should undergo integrity checks conducted by FIFA as defined by FIFA Ethics Committee.
- An extraordinary congress to be held with two items to be discussed on the agenda (A) to adopt the new SLFA Code of Ethics (Based on FIFA code of Ethics), (B) to revise the SLFA statutes and include integrity checks requirements for potential candidates.
- Following the Extraordinary Congress, the SLFA shall organise Ordinary Congress in order to select their Electoral Board in preparation for the SLFA elections and to present any relevant statutory reports.
- The Match-Fixing Commission should hand over to FIFA all files and evidence linked to match-fixing in Sierra Leone football. Fifa will then decide how to proceed.
- The government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Sports undertakes to enforce its ban on betting on local football matches and to support any sanctions that may be taken by FIFA and SLFA against those who are found guilty of match-fixing.
- The government through the Minister of sports will ensure the smooth and uninterrupted operations of the SLFA.
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