FIFA suspends Sierra Leone Football Association

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
FIFA has carried out its threat to ban the Sierra Leone Football Association
FIFA has carried out its threat to ban the Sierra Leone Football Association

Football's world governing body, FIFA, has carried out its threat to ban the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) over  what it perceives as persistent government interference.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council on Friday announced that after several warnings to Sierra Leone for it to in-restate the interdicted Football Association, Ms Isha Johansen and the General Secretary, Christopher Kamara in September.

According to the release announcing the suspension, the decision comes after a recent letter from FIFA to the Minister of Sports of Sierra Leone to express grave concern about the removal of the SLFA President and the SLFA General Secretary.

Also, FIFA had requested that the two officials be allowed to access the SLFA premises without further delay to ensure that the operations of the SLFA, including FIFA-funded projects, are not jeopardised. However, the government did not give in to the request.

Isha Johansen, the Sierra Leone FA president has been locked out of her office


FIFA says, the suspension will be lifted once the SLFA and its recognised leadership (led by SLFA President, Ms Johansen, and SLFA General Secretary, Kamara) have confirmed to FIFA that the SLFA administration, premises, accounts and communication channels are under their control once again.

Per the suspension,  the SLFA has lost all its membership rights as defined in Article 13 of the FIFA Statutes and thus can not participate in any international assignment related to football.

This also means that Member Associations affiliated to FIFA and the continental body, CAF, can not engage in any sporting contact with any team from Sierra Leone either at the club or national level.

Sierra Leone football will be reinstated once the government ceases its action and Ms Johansen confirms that things have returned to normal.

Per this announcement, the Sierra Leone's scheduled 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Ghana in Kumasi on October 11, is off.

 

Sierra Leone's Anti-Corruption Commission has sealed off the office of the Football Association

Raging conflict

The threat of a ban has been looming for Sierra Leone since August when the country's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) warned the SLFA President and the General Secretary to resign while they were being investigated for allegation of acts of corruption.

However, Ms Johansen did not heed to the warning , denying any wrongdoing.

A week later, the ACC has raided the offices of the country's Sa Leone FA and the Deputy Director of Public Education and outreach Department at the ACC, confirmed that after the raid, Kamara handed over the necessary computer and passwords to Abdul Rahman Swarray, who the ACC recognises as the acting Secretary General.

On September 18, football's world governing body in reaction to that action, warned that Sierra Leone risked an international ban following raid.

FIFA's statutes forbid outside third-party interference in the running of its members.

"We request the SLFA to provide a detailed report on the current situation by no later than Monday 24 September," a Fifa letter to the SLFA said.

"Recent developments, if confirmed, would … have to be brought to the attention of the Bureau of the FIFA Council for consideration of sanctions, including immediate suspension.

"It was reported to our services that on 18 September, the premises of the SLFA were apparently intruded by the ACC, allegedly with the collaboration of the Ministry of Sports and accompanied by armed forces," added the letter signed by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

This was followed with another letter on October 1, with FIFA requesting that the SLFA president,  Ms Johansen be allowed back in to SLFA premises.

Though a meeting was scheduled between FIFA and the government of Sierra Leone, the football body has nonetheless gone ahead to ban the country as it had repeatedly warned that the ACC's actions could lead to a suspension.