Saturday May 08, 2021. 10:00
Gianni Infantino, president of world governing body FIFA, has urged Sierra Leone authorities to resolve an ongoing impasse in the administration of football in the country.
The row dates back as far as 2013, when Aisha Johansen was elected as the first female president of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), and has derailed their football competitions.
“I think the time has come where we have to move forward and look into the future,” Infantino said during a meeting with President Julius Maada Bio earlier this week, as quoted by The East African.
Infantino was in the country as part of a four-day West Africa tour. He was accompanied by new Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe.
After visiting the Ivory Coast and Liberia, the stop in Sierra Leone arrived in the wake of the cancellation of the planned elective congress of the SLFA. The event was scheduled for later this month but has been delayed to early June. This is the fourth time the congress has been pushed back.
Johansen is contesting for a second term, over three years after the expiry of her first term. She has been accused of maladministration and corruption – though Johansen and her supporters insist she is the victim of male chauvinism.
A group calling itself the Football Stakeholders is challenging the legitimacy of her leadership, alleging that she has deliberately delayed elective processes to retain her position of power.
The wrangle has seen most football competitions put on the back burner in Sierra Leone, while FIFA has threatened sanctions on several occasions due to alleged political interference in the administration of football.
“FIFA and CAF stand for due process, for integrity, for democracy and to make sure that we can once again put aside all negativities that have tarnished the image of football in the country in the last few years,” said Infantino.
CAF President Motsepe told the meeting of plans for CAF and FIFA to help Sierra Leone with the requisite infrastructure to be able to host the African Cup of Nations “in the not-too-distant future.”