Sierra Leone plead with FIFA to lift ban for Ghana clash
The under-siege leadership of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has agreed to write to FIFA to temporarily lift the ban on the country to enable them to play Ghana on Saturday in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The move is meant to allow the feuding parties the time to reach an amicable solution to the crisis bedeviling football without losing the points against Ghana as a result of the ban.
Fifa suspended Sierra Leone from international football last week because of government interference in the running of the country’s football association.
The ban comes after the country’s anti-corruption commission (ACC) barred two leading SLFA officials President Isha Johansen and General Secretary from the governing body’s offices.
If the ban is not lifted before 11 October, Sierra Leone’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Ghana will be cancelled. The return fixture is scheduled for 15 October.
In a bid to avoid forfeiting the Ghana game, Chief Minister Prof David Francis called a meeting on Monday with all the feuding parties and agreed that
Sports minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh and the ACC had threatened to defy FIFA and forfeit the match against Ghana, damning the consequences.
However, following the intervention of the Chief Minister, the parties agreed for the FIFA-recognised Johansen administration to write to the Swiss-based body to appeal for the ban to be lifted.
They also agreed for a delegation including all parties to be sent to be sent to Zurich as soon as possible to seek an amicable solution for the an to be permanently lifted.
They also agreed to start an internal mediation process for a peaceful settlement to be found.
The ACC says that, under Sierra Leone law, both SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara must vacate their posts until their case on corruption-related charges concludes.
Both Johansen and Kamara have denied any wrongdoing.
Fifa had repeatedly warned Sierra Leonean authorities the ACC’s actions could result in a ban and, in a letter dated 28 September, sought a meeting with the government to address the impasse.
While the government has claimed it had nothing to do with the ACC’s actions, Fifa outlaws ‘undue influence from any third party’.
Sierra Leone are one of four teams with three points in Group F, which also includes Ethiopia and Kenya.