Fifa to probe Sierra Leone match-fixing despite latest row

Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen
Fifa recognises Isha Johansen as the president of the Sierra Leone Football Association

Fifa says it is monitoring the situation in Sierra Leone where local anti-corruption authorities have asked FA president Isha Johansen to step down by 19 September.

Johansen faces corruption charges, which she strongly denies, with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) saying she must be suspended in line with national rules until her case concludes.

"Fifa is closely monitoring developments and plans to provide the Member Associations Committee with an update on 26 September," a Fifa spokesperson said.

Johansen has acknowledged the ultimatum for her to vacate her post but is remaining tight-lipped on whether she will follow it.

The ACC's latest demand for both her and Sierra Leone FA (SLFA) secretary general Christopher Kamara to step aside comes shortly before a scheduled visit by a Fifa taskforce to investigate potential match-fixing in Sierra Lone.

The four-man Fifa unit is leading a match-fixing inquiry that includes a World Cup qualifier between Sierra Leone and South Africa in 2008.

Since 2014, eleven officials and four players have been suspended by Sierra Leone's FA pending investigation, with all having denied wrongdoing.

"Fifa continues to expect that the agreed roadmap is strictly adhered to by all parties," said world football's governing body.

"In this context, the Inquiry Group Sierra Leone will be visiting the country soon to conduct its investigations."

Fifa is currently overseeing a roadmap which also concerns, in addition to the match-fixing investigation, delays to FA elections and agreeing the conduct of integrity checks on officials wanting to contest executive positions.

Last week, Johansen refused to state whether she will follow the ACC demand.

"I have been informed of the ACC's letter but prefer to decline to comment," Johansen told BBC Sport.

"The political discord and fragmented breakaway football factions have spanned close to five years. The core reasons for these disputes have over the years become an all too familiar subject of discussion."

Both Johansen and Kamara have always strenuously denied the allegations of corruption.

Nonetheless, ACC commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala has warned of tough action if the SLFA president fails to comply with the order he outlined in a letter to Minister of Sport Ibrahim Nyelenkeh.

"If your ministry doesn't take the necessary steps required within seven days of receipt of this gentle reminder to you on the need to uphold the law, we shall proceed to open investigations against her for abuse of office," said Kaifala.

The letter was sent to the minister and copied to both Johansen and Kamara.

Johansen has previously been set aside by the SLFA Executive Committee but Fifa - which disapproves of governmental interference in the running of a national association - refused to recognise the decision and continues to work with her.

She was recalled to the Executive Committee a few months ago.

Sierra Leone has been without a domestic league for four years because of the divisions within the SLFA.

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