Exclusive: Sierra Leone minister of sports Paul Kamara speaks on politics and football

Minister of Sports Paul Kamara – photo (c) Mohamed Fajah Barrie/BBC

Sierra Leone’s minister of Youth Employment and Sports, Paul Mohamed Kamara, has intimated to this medium that officials from FIFA and CAF will be arriving in Sierra Leone on Friday to address the SLFA saga.

Kamara made this disclosure during an interview at his office on Thursday, where he said that the issue in the SLFA saga is the resignation of key executive members of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) involving the president the SLFA President, Nahim Khadi, the Vice President- J. S. Kelfala and the second Vice President- Alie Commoner.

He said J.S. Kelfala is now a candidate for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, vying for the Mayoral elections in Kenema.

Paul said FIFA frowns at people who are in politics and also meddling in to the sports.

“There is a precedence- When Nahim Khadi was on medical in London, Kelfala was acting as president of the SLFA while Alpha Timbo was an executive member. But when Timbo vies for the SLPP leadership he was removed from SLFA by Kelfala, stating that should not be possible,” he said.

“Kelfala therefore does not have the stance to dictate the affairs of football as long as he is in active politics,” he said.

He said the other people recently elected were kanacio -Western area, Samuel Kamara –Sothern Province, Sanoh Eastern Province, and that though they are part of the executive they have not yet been endorsed by Congress, and therefore causing a vacuum in the operation of SLFA.

He said the present Secretary General of SLFA, Mohamed Swaray, is still acting in that position and that added to the others they have no legitimacy to supervise SLFA.

“The National Sports Council Act of 1965 gives power to the minister to step in and resolve crisis in SLFA, “that is why I stepped in and formed the 7 man normalization committee which was composed of referees, National Olympic committee, journalists and other stakeholders,” he said.

He said the committee was supposed to have served for six months to control the affairs of SLFA, considering pending matches which Sierra Leone has to play, and that elections will then be held for the SLFA executive.

“If the Minister does not step in to control problems in SLFA who else will do that,” he asked.

He said another issue is the decision by the Appeals Committee of the SLFA to overturn the ruling of the Electoral Board, stating that the Appeals Committee is an illegal body which is yet to be endorsed by congress.

“Abu king, who is chairman of the Appeals Committee is playing double roles, he also serves as chairman of the Ethics Committee,” he disclosed.

Commenting on the Rodney Michael saga, Paul said Michael was disqualified by the Electoral Committee to contest for the presidency of SLFA, and that the decision was based on the FIFA Statute: which states that anyone directly or indirectly associated with a ‘betting’ company should not be a member of a football association.

“This is because of the cases of match fixing,” he said, adding that this is why the Electoral Board disqualified Rodney Michael.

“The Electoral Board is the legitimate body which congress has endorsed,” he reiterated.

He however said that the ban has been lifted but that representatives from FIFA and CAF will be in Sierra Leone on Friday to settle the dispute.

By Alpha B. Kamara in Freetown