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FIFA ban jeopardises Sierra Loene's AFCON matches against Ghana

Sierra Leone

<p><strong>Sierra Leone’s defiance of global football governing body <span class="caps">FIFA</span> means an African Nations Cup qualifier against Ghana in Kumasi will not go ahead on Thursday.</strong></p> <p><span class="caps">FIFA</span> last week suspended the Sierra Leone Football Association (<span class="caps">SLFA</span>) due to government interference in soccer affairs, specifically protesting the removal of <span class="caps">SLFA</span> president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara.</p> <p>Sierra Leone authorities, who had petitioned <span class="caps">FIFA</span> to get the ban lifted, did not meet a Tuesday deadline to reinstate ousted football association president Isha Johansen, who is accused of corruption by government officials.</p> <p>“Our appeal has been rejected,” Sierra Leone Football Association president Brima Mazzola Kamara, who replaced Johansen, told Reuters.</p> <p>“It is not what we were hoping for, especially since this now means the <span class="caps">CAF</span> match won’t be happening. <span class="caps">FIFA</span> told us that Isha’s reinstatement was a prerequisite for our suspension being lifted, and when we told them she had not returned to work, they denied us.”</p> <p>Mazzola Kamara said that the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission will not budge on their decision to oust Johansen and <span class="caps">SLFA</span> general secretary Christopher Kamara over allegations of match-fixing involving the national team.</p> <p>Johansen and Christopher Kamara both deny any wrongdoing.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Defiant Sierra Leone</h2> <p>“The Anti-Corruption Commission will not stand for its judgement to be circumvented by <span class="caps">FIFA</span> or anyone else. Now we just need to wait and see what happens,” Mazzola Kamara said.</p> <p>“But Isha won’t be reinstated, so the <span class="caps">CAF</span> match is definitely not happening. It’s unfortunate but it is what it is.”</p> <p>The country’s Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Kaifala, has slammed <span class="caps">FIFA</span>, calling their suspension of the country an attack on Sierra Leone’s sovereignty.</p> <p>“Corruption is the biggest emergency Sierra Leone faces right now, and these actions from <span class="caps">FIFA</span> are nothing less than a violation of our national sovereignty,” Kaifala said.</p> <p>“They may have their rules but we also have our own and will not be bullied around. We will play the game in our hearts even if they bar us from playing with them.”</p> <a style="font-size:16px; font-color:yellow;" href="http://www.africanews.com/2018/08/21/fifa-imposes-its-will-on-nigeria-ghana-over-football-management-disputes/"target="_blank"><span class="caps">ALSO</span> <span class="caps">READ</span>: <span class="caps">FIFA</span> imposes its will on Nigeria, Ghana over football management disputes</a> <p>Sierra Leone have three points from their opening two Nations Cup qualifiers and are also due to host Ghana in Freetown on Monday, with that fixture also in doubt over the impasse.</p> <p>Confederation of African Football (<span class="caps">CAF</span>) has yet to comment on whether Ghana will be awarded a win for Thursday’s match or if Sierra Leone will be allowed to continue in the Nations Cup qualifying competition if and when they are reinstated by <span class="caps">FIFA</span>.</p> <p><strong><em><span class="caps">REUTERS</span></em></strong></p>

Corruption is the biggest emergency Sierra Leone faces right now, and these actions from FIFA are nothing less than a violation of our national sovereignty.

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