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FIFA warns Sierra Leone Sports Ministry over Leone Stars

FIFA warns Sierra Leone Sports Ministry over Leone Stars

World’s football governing body, FIFA, has warned the Sierra Leone Sports Ministry to stop acting unilaterally on matters involving Leone Stars as alleged by the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), or the country risk being banned from international football.  (Photo: Sports Minister Paul Kamara [Centre] (Photo credit: Mohamed Fajah Barrie)

In a letter to SLFA dated 16th August 2011, FIFA clearly stated that if the Sports Ministry persist in their unilateral decisions it shall be considered as interference in SLFA internal affairs.

This violates articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA status which state that each member association must runs its affairs independently.

Furthermore, FIFA has asked SLFA to inform the Sports Ministry about the potential adverse consequences on Sierra Leone football if it violates the already mentioned articles, one of which will be an indefinite ban on the country’s most cherished sport.

Sports Minister Paul Kamara has denied that his ministry has been unilaterally taking decisions on Leone Stars issues.

“It’s not true that we’ve been acting unilaterally on matters involving Leone Stars. We’ve never done that, we’ve always been working with SLFA,” Minister Kamara told sierraleonefootball.com.

He added: “Take for example; we shared responsibilities during our last match against Niger at home. My ministry was responsible for ticketing and marketing of the game as well as taking care of Leone Stars among other things, whilst SLFA was in charge of the visiting team and administrative aspects of the match as it should be.”

“How can my ministry work in isolation on Leone Stars matters when FIFA and CAF deal directly with SLFA, It is not possible.”

There were serious disputes between the Sports Ministry and SLFA over the appointment of a coach for Leone Stars for the team’s last match against Niger in Freetown in June in the 2012 qualifiers and also who should be in charge of running that same game.

The Sports Ministry wanted Swedish coach Lars Olof Mattsson to be in charge of the team and also wanted to be in charge of marketing and sales of the match whilst SLFA’s preferred choice was local coach Christian Cole and wanted to run the marketing and gates of the match too.

After a lengthy meeting between the two parties agreements were reached and the disputes were resolved almost two weeks before the match. The Ministry’s choice was accepted and they also took charge of the marketing and sales of the group G fixture among other things.

The FIFA letter specially addressed these two areas of dispute and makes its position very clear.

It stated that the Sports Ministry which is assuming the costs of the national team including the salary of the national coach can propose a coach but it is the responsibility of the SLFA Technical and Executive committees to formally accept or reject it.

The letter also mentioned that it has come to knowledge of FIFA that the Sports Ministry wants to organise Leone Stars upcoming matches of the 2012 qualifiers against Egypt and South Africa respectively without the involvement of SLFA. FIFA says that is unacceptable if that is really the case.

“My ministry has never single-handedly take charge of a Leone Stars match and the pending matches against Egypt and South Africa are not exceptions,”said Minister Kamara.

He added: “We always collaborate with SLFA and we’ll do the same thing for the Egypt and South Africa games. Already the SLFA has written letters to my ministry regarding the Egypt game and officials of my ministry have had meetings with them to start planning. Also we’ve always been working with SLFA with regards to the appointment of coach for Leone Stars. Before the Niger game, we held a meeting with members of their Technical and Executive committees and reached a decision to appoint Olof Mattsson as coach and Christian Cole as his assistant.”

Despite issuing a warning to the Sports Ministry, FIFA encourages SLFA to engage in dialogue with Ministry to settle the current issues for the benefit of Leone Stars.

This means the two bodies must work together as both have a role to play on issues involving Leone Stars.

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Freetown, courtesy of SierraLeonefootball.com

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