The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has pulled out of backing the President Cup tournament which is underway this weekend in Freetown to mark the return of domestic football in the country after over a year of suspension following the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Thirty top flight clubs are participating in the tournament which is fully backed by the government and it has been named after the President – the ‘Ernest Bai Koroma Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone trophy’.
But the FA has issued a public warning that it did not organise the tournament and that they never gave the go ahead for it to take place. It called the tournament “illegal” and said that officials and club taking part could face punishment if they participate in it.
In the FA’s statement released on Saturday – a day after the tournament had kicked off – the governing body accused a “group of people” who are behind the organisation of the event in order “to solicit public interest as well as financial/material benefits”.
The SLFA said that it is against its regulations for a tournament to be organised without its prior consent.
President Koroma had lifted the ban on football in the country last week. The tournament has received enormous support in the country since the game has been in the back burner for over a year.
While some understand the FA’s position from a legal stand point, others have criticised their decision to issue this notice.
Over the past year the government and the FA have been in disagreement over many issues from the appointment of a national team coach to the power struggle between the current executive headed by Isha Johansen and rival factions backed by the sport minister Paul Kamara.
By Alie Bittar