Freetown - Sierra Leone has rejected demands by FIFA to
reinstate its dissolved football association, cautioning the world governing
body on Tuesday to "respect national laws".
FIFA has given the west African nation until Wednesday to
comply with the directive or risk an immediate ban from all international
"Our decision stands and it will not be changed,"
Ibrahim Bangura, of the National Sports Council (NSC), told reporters in the
"The Ministry of Sport and the Sports Council have the
responsibility to govern sports in Sierra Leone and will stand by the decision
to dissolve the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).
"FIFA must follow procedures and respect national laws.
Our decision is final and cannot be changed or overturned by anyone outside our
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Deputy sports minister Ismael Al-Sankoh Conteh said the NSC
had been forced to take action last week after the SLFA dissolved a seven-man
committee set up to identify delegates for the association's next congress.
The NSC says the committee was set up by FIFA and endorsed
by Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma.
FIFA outlaws government interference in the running of
football and frequently suspends national associations, with Kuwait, Nigeria
and Cameroon among the most recent targets for sanctions.
Online sports news portal Football Sierra Leone printed a
letter on Saturday it said was from acting FIFA secretary general Markus
Kattner, warning SLFA general secretary Chris Kamara of a possible ban.
"The decisions of the National Sports Council appear to
amount to government interference in the internal affairs of the SLFA,"
Kattner says in the letter.
He warns that unless the NSC backs down, the matter will be
referred to FIFA's Emergency Committee, which would almost certainly result in
the SLFA being suspended.
"We would like to underline the dire effects a
suspension could have on Sierra Leone football," Kattner says.
"It would for instance mean that no team from Sierra
Leone of any sort (including clubs) could have any international sporting
SLFA president Isha Johansen urged the government to think
again in a statement on Tuesday pleading for her organisation to be allowed to
"create a culture of good governance".
"Striving to retain independence has been a huge
challenge and has made the Sierra Leone football industry the focus of much
international and national attention," she said.For
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