Sierra Leone FA congress ends abruptly following another row

By Mohamed Fajah BarrieBBC Sport, Makeni
Sierra Leone fans
Sierra Leone fans

The crisis in Sierra Leone football deepened over the weekend after the Football Association's long-awaited congress in Makeni was brought to an abrupt end just a few hours after it began.

The congress was scheduled to last for two days.

It was halted prematurely following disagreements over who should represent some of the Sierra Leone Football Association's (SLFA) members as delegates.

"I called off the congress as there were a lot of irregularities in the SLFA that involve representation - especially with the western area, coaches, referees, and veteran associations," said the National Olympic Committee (NOC) boss, Patrick Coker, who chaired the congress.

"If these problems are not solved it's going to be very difficult to call another congress. I'm not going to fix a date for them to hold congress, the SLFA will determine that.

"I'll go back and report to President Ernest Koroma what I got from the congress. A lot of things in the SLFA constitution need interpretation" Coker added.

There was chaos before the annual event had even started when police officers stopped some stake-holders, claiming to be legitimate delegates, from entering the congress venue.

They were later allowed into the hall on the orders of Sports minister Paul Kamara who gave the keynote address in the opening session of the congress.

One of the certified delegates, Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay, accused the SLFA executive of falsifying delegates, a claim the SLFA denies.

"I'm disappointed at the executive as they are to blame for the abrupt end to the congress," Sesay told BBC Sport.

"We don't have confidence in them. So we're going to ask that an interim committee be formed and lead us to congress."

However, he SLFA vehemently denies all allegations against them.

SLFA vice-president Brima Mazola Kamara blamed some of the stakeholders for the hasty end to the congress.

"Some of the stakeholders have no respect for their executive committee who they gave the mandate to govern football in Sierra Leone," Kamara told BBC Sport.

"There were no fake delegates in the congress, some people just wanted to cause problems.

"I'm disappointed at them and I have a message for them that we are determined to run football in Sierra Leone until our term expires.

"No interim body will be allowed to organise congress, Fifa will in fact not allow it to happen. We have the mandate as an executive to do that."

The convening of congress has been a contentious issue since last year when the SLFA executive committee failed to hold the annual event in the second quarter of the year, as stipulated in the association's constitution.

The executive committee postponed it to January 2015 because of concerns over the outbreak of the ebola virus.

But the move was not supported by a large number of the membership who organised an unusual extraordinary congress via teleconference in December last year, after they were denied permission by the police to converge because of the public health emergency laws.

They signed a resolution to impeach the Isha Johansen-led SLFA executive, but the move did not have the blessing of Fifa, and Johansen labelled their decision as illegal and unnecessary.

President Koroma had to intervene and was able to convince the two parties to have the congress in April and also have the NOC boss Coker to chair the sessions.

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