Sierra Leone’s Sports Minister reacted angrily on Monday to a threat by FIFA to ban or suspend the country for the suspension of the nation’s two top football officials in a corruption probe.
“We will not accept or tolerate any threat from FIFA,” minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh told AFP in Freetown.
The global association, he insisted, had “no right or authority to suspend or ban Sierra Leone.”
The minister said it was the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (AAC), not the government, which had asked Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) President Isha Johansen and Secretary General Christopher Kamara to step down pending an investigation into alleged misuse of donor and state funds.
“We do not interfere into the operations of football administrators as a sports ministry,” he insisted and said the government “did not participate” in a raid on the SLFA.
The ministry, Nyelenkeh added, has already recognised the new SLFA President Brima Mazola Kamara and secretary general Abdul Rahman Swarray.
According to Sierra Leone law, any public official under investigation must step aside pending the outcome.
A FIFA letter seen by AFP insisted that member associations, including the SLFA, “are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from any third party.”
It added: “Failure to meet these obligations may lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA status even if the third-party influence was not the fault of the member association concerned.”
Recent developments, the letter stated, may constitute an undue interference in the affairs of the SLFA and would, therefore, have to be brought to the attention of the Bureau of the FIFA Council for consideration of sanctions including the immediate suspension of the SLFA.”