The President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, has asked the Sierra Leone authorities to work together to resolve a protracted dispute in the administration of football in the country.
The Controversy between rival factions in The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), which arose from the election of Aisha Johansen as the first female president of the country’s football association in 2013, has derailed competitions.
“I think it is time we had to move forward and look to the future, ”Infantino said during a meeting with President Julius Maada Bio on Wednesday.
Mr. Infantino was in the country on a four-day tour of West Africa. He was accompanied by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe.
The FIFA / CAF delegation had already visited Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia inter-school championship in Africa.
In Côte d’Ivoire, Motsepe made a landmark announcement of a $ 10 million donation to the FIFA-CAF Pan-African School Football Championship. According to CAF, the money will be used to initiate and support the development and growth of school football in the six CAF zones as part of the FIFA CAF Pan-African School Football Championship recently launched in Kinshasa.
The FIFA / CAF delegation met with the presidents and football players in the three countries discussed joint initiatives to develop sport in the region.
In Liberia, Mr. Motsepe encouraged a large crowd of students at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium to play football as a career to pursue. supported by education.
“We want boys and girls to have soccer careers because they can support themselves and make money for themselves and their families. You must also study and have the same passion for football and education. You have to be the best in football and the best in school, ”said Dr. Motsepe.
Liberian President George Weah was introduced as the first ambassador for the Pan-African Inter-School Championship.
Mr Weah was selected as the only African player to be selected for his groundbreaking performance in football Reportedly won the most prestigious individual award in football to date, the Ballon d’Or.
The visit to Sierra Leone, the first of all the heads of the two football institutions, comes in as the country’s lengthy football series follows The cancellation of the planned election congress of the SLFA enters a new phase.
The congress, which was planned for this month, was suddenly postponed by the SLFA, citing the lack of readiness. It is now scheduled for June 4-5.
It is the fourth time that the Congress has been canceled.
Johansen is fighting for a second term, more than three years at the end of her first term.
Her election as the best football position in the country in August 2013, albeit under controversial circumstances, was hailed as a milestone. However, conflicts soon arose on the basis of allegations and counter-allegations of maladministration and corruption. For Johansen and her supporters, she is a victim of the male chauvinism that dominates sport in Sierra Leone.
A group that calls themselves football stakeholders is questioning the legitimacy of their leadership. She says she used all illegal tactics to avoid elections.
Several impressive candidates for the presidency were disqualified thanks to FIFA integrity checks.
Because of the clash, most of the football competitions were canceled not carried out Since Johansen’s election, he did not play in Sierra Leone for most of the time, until the country’s top division was resumed in 2018.
In between, FIFA threatened several times to give Sierra Leone over alleged political interference in the administration sanction
Johansen’s critics accuse FIFA and the CAF of supporting Johansen despite their alleged disregard for established rules. And the visit of the two football administrators is seen by some of their critics as a further demonstration of this support.
According to the FIFA President, the world football association is only interested in due process.
“FIFA and CAF stand for due process, for integrity, for democracy and for the fact that we can put aside all the negativities that have tarnished the image of football in the country in recent years.” he said.
At the meeting of the plans for CAF and FIFA, CAF President Motsepe said they would provide Sierra Leone with the necessary infrastructure to host the African Nations Cup “in the not too distant future. “
President Bio told the visitors that while politics had always been a divisive force, football had remained one of the unifying forces in the country, which is why his government wanted to finally resolve the problems.
“We are very polarized when it comes to politics, but when it comes to football you can see that. The passion, you can see the joy. It’s a different Sierra Leone, especially when it comes to football “, he said