The World Football governing body (FIFA) has in a strongly worded letter dated 11th December 2015 issued a stern warning to the National Sports Council asking them to withdraw the dissolution of the Isha Johansen led executive and allow its staff have access to its offices at Kingtom by Wednesday December 16 or face an immediate ban.
The letter addressed to the SLFA General Secretary, Chris Kamara and signed by FIFA’s Acting Secretary General, Markus Kattner stated that “the decision of the National Sports Council appears to amount governmental interference in the internal affairs of the SLFA” and violates art 13, par 1, let. 1 and art 17 par 1.
FIFA ultimatum came after the National Sports Council announced the dissolution of the SLFA executive committee last Thursday and the Director of Sports said the NSC had acted afte r the SLFA, led by Isha Johansen, dissolved a seven-man committee set up to identify delegates for the association's next congress, which is according to the SLFA constitution, the second quarter (April-June) of every year.
The NSC further stated that it has installed the seven-man committee to serve in the capacity of the Executive Committee with immediate effect; meaning, Dr Sheku Sorsoh Conteh is now the FA Acting President while there are rumours that match fixing suspect, Alphan Coker, who is the Deputy Director of Sports at the Sports ministry is now the SLFA Secretary.
Nonetheless, FIFA has demanded that all football associations be independent and has acted promptly, insisting on a halt to the NSC's plans while demanding the return of the keys to its offices, which were allegedly seized by the Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu and all staff ordered not to go near the office until further notice.
Kattner stated in the letter that FIFA does not recognize bodies which have not been elected or appointed in accordance with the Member Associations’ statutes making reference to art.17, par 2 and 3 of the FIFA Statutes.
“Failure to comply with these obligations may lead to sanctions against the Member Associations,” he said noting that "we would like to underline the dire effects a suspension could have on Sierra Leone football. It would for instance mean that no team from Sierra Leone of any sort (including clubs) could have any international sporting contact," Markus Kattner said.
Sierra Leone can escape suspension if the NSC complied with FIFA but if they resist, the country’s football will face a suspension which, according to FIFA’s acting Secretary can only be lifted when the current SLFA Executive Committee has been reinstalled and able to work without any third party influence.
“Only then would it be possible to decide on the fate of the seven-man committee considering most probably a change either at the level of membership or methodology,” Markus Kattner wrote.
When contacted, Isha Johansen said for the past two years, she and her executive have been “strenuously working towards developing a footballing nation with a culture relatively free of poor administration, corruption, third party interference, vested interests and historic loyalties, all of which has mitigated against the growth of our football and footballers in the past”.
She said striving to retain independence has been a huge challenge and has made the Sierra Leone football industry the focus of much national and international “disapproval, disappointment and mockery”.
Madam Johansen urges all Sierra Leoneans “be you a football loving fan or otherwise to fully understand the consequences of what a full exclusion from FIFA and CAF would mean not just for our teams and football, but for the nation. We at SLFA ask for one simple thing; allow us to create a culture of good governance. Give us the opportunity to let the people of Sierra Leone experience being the proud owners of a decent national team playing football at its best.”
Copyright 2014 The Sierra Leone Football Association.
Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being giving to the Communications Desk of the FA as source.