September 13 – Sierra Leone football, for months embroiled in an internal power struggle, has been further rocked by two off-the-field incidents that have caused widespread embarrassment within the federation’s leadership.
Angry fans attacked the house of Sierra Leone captain Umaru Bangura after he missed a decisive stoppage-time penalty in front of a huge crowd on Sunday.
It meant Sierra Leone failed to get through to the next stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Liberia winning the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
Had Bangura scored, Sierra Leone would have levelled the two-legged tie 3-3 and gone through to the next stage on away goals. After the game fans pelted Bangura’s home with stones. The windows and doors of his residence in the capital, Freetown, were left badly damaged.
“[It was] one of the worst days of my life,” Bangura told the BBC while holed-up in his bedroom. “I can’t even go outside because I didn’t expect this kind of hostility towards me.”
Meanwhile, reports have emerged that the son of former England captain and tv front man Gary Lineker was assaulted whilst filming during the same World Cup qualifier.
Lineker Snr says the incident happened while his 25-year-old producer son Harry was working on a podcast and left him “terrified” after being separated from his crew and being surrounded by fans who were furious at the last-gasp missed penalty.
“They were there filming behind the scenes, in the dressing rooms, with all the fans. Well, my Harry nearly lost his life – it was a bit of a scary moment,” Lineker was quoted as saying. “Harry was with the camera guy and a fixer and (after) the mass invasion they got split, and Harry was on his own and he’s running and he thinks ‘I’ll take cover in the tunnel’.
“They were ripping his clothes off, they’ve taken his phone and everything out of his pockets. He thought he saw a blade and thought he was going to get knifed.”
In a statement, Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen apologised to Harry Lineker saying she and the federation were “truly sorry.”
“As much as we are a nation truly passionate about football, random hooliganism – especially attacks towards foreigners – is not representative of our football fans or who we are as a nation,” she said.
It was also reported in an SLFA press release that Harry had played down the incident saying he was not injured and that he was “just pushed and kicked a little bit and had my phone stolen.”
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