Rodney Michael, the erstwhile aspirant of last year’s Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) election has successfully launched his first attempt to clear his name in a civil court over alleged involvement in match fixing which will enable him to return to football activities in the country.
Michael was disqualified from the presidential race on the pretext of his association, as a Consultant with a sports betting company in Sierra Leone, though many suggested that the decision was racially and politically motivated.
According to the Football FA, Michael contravenes the Fifa code of Ethics which relates to betting, gambling, lotteries and similar events or transaction connected with football.
In his defence Michael has argued that the clause deals with the act of gambling on matches that can be influenced and relates it with the FIFA Code of Conduct which is explicit in banning the act of gambling, and not the association with sports betting companies.
In support to his argument, Michael questions where the limitations to association would stop as so many clubs are sponsored by sports betting companies, and some owners of sports betting companies own clubs as well, and cited Peter Coates of Stoke City as a perfect example.
According to the legal team headed by Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, representing Rodney Michael,
“Court has granted an injunction against the suspension, meaning the decision to suspend Rodney Michael without a hearing and right denied him to respond to the charges has been put on hold by the injunction until the court listens to arguments from both parties
“Court orders are court orders, it will be served to the SLFA,” Saffa told FSL UK.
However, Michael told Football Sierra Leone UK he feels he has been victimised.
“The FA considers me as an opposition and as such would want to tarnish my image and destroy my reputation I have worked so hard for over the last 28 years in football” and denied all claims of unlawful activity as pledged to challenge the FA in court and wherever necessary to clear his name.
“My legal team is now dealing with the matter over the allegations, and I have also made my feelings known to FIFA and am happy they have referred the matter to the FIFA Disciplinary committee to investigate further.”
In summary the injunction restores Mr Michael’s rights to participate in all football activities and in particular to participate in the congress of the SLFA scheduled for next month, or if he so chooses to attend the Extraordinary Congress members have opted to convene in direct confrontation with the Executive of the FA in December.
FSL UK sources closed to the football FA has indicated that the injunction will be contested by the SLFA.
The prominent football administrator is set for a return to football activities until the court determines if there is enough evidence to associate Rodney Michael with match-fixing.
An allegation the administrator has aggressively denied and has insisted it was a ploy by the FA President to discredit him during the elections.
Rodney was suspended together with 14 others on allegation of match-fixing and the statement was jointly signed by sports minister Paul Kamara and Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen.