FIFA welcomes Sierra Leone back into the family in time for Paris gathering

June 4 – FIFA has lifted Sierra Leone’s international ban following a meeting of the world governing body’s ruling council in Paris, allowing FA president Isha Johansen to attend the FIFA Congress here on Wednesday.

The move comes a week after Johansen was cleared of corruption at home following months of bitter in-fighting.

FIFA suspended Sierra Leone last October due to government interference in the running of the country’s FA.

“This is very good news for Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone football,” Johansen told the BBC.

“Our football family will embrace one another once again, and focus on one agenda – which is putting Sierra Leone first.”

Sierra Leone’s ban saw them disqualified from the qualifying campaign for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

In a statement, FIFA said the suspension was lifted “after the High Court of Sierra Leone acquitted the SLFA President and the SLFA General Secretary of all charges on 27 May.

“(This) ensured that the recognised leadership has full control of the member association again.”

Johansen and SLFA General Secretary Christopher Kamara returned to their posts after they were acquitted on all counts of corruption by the court in Freetown.

Both Johansen and SLFA General Secretary Christopher Kamara had been accused of 10 charges of corruption, later reduced to four by the government’s Anti Corruption Commission.

Last September the ACC seized control of the SLFA, forcing Johansen to step aside and handing responsibility to SLFA vice-president Brima Kamara and deputy general secretary Abdul Rahman Swarray.

Johansen and Kamara have long denied any wrongdoing of misappropriating funds, claiming they were victims of trumped-up, politically driven charges designed to stop an inquiry into match-fixing and corruption allegedly perpetrated by high-ranking opponents.

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