FIFA rejects Sierra Leone plea, Ghana AFCON qualifier in danger
FIFA has rejected an appeal from the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) to temporarily lift the ban on the country to enable them play Ghana this week insisting the elected officers must be reinstated by 5pm today.
Fifa suspended Sierra Leone from international football last week because of government interference in the running of the country's football association.
The ban was imposed after the country's anti-corruption commission (ACC) barred two leading SLFA officials President Isha Johansen and General Secretary from the governing body's offices.
The Johansen administration agreed to write to FIFA on Monday to temporarily lift the ban on the country to enable them play Ghana on Thursday in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier after an intervention by the Chief Minister over the football crisis in the country.
The world governing insists failure to reinstate both SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara by the deadline will result in the Leone Stars not being able to play the game against the Black Stars on Thursday in Kumasi.
The move was meant to allow the feuding parties the time to reach an amicable solution to the crisis bedevilling football without losing the points against Ghana as a result of the ban.
But the plead has been rejected with FIFA insisting that the two top officials must be reinstated by 5pm tonight to avoid the squad being declared losers of the important qualifier.
"Finally, please note that any proposal to lift the suspension of the SLFA will have to be submitted to the Bureau of the Council for approval," FIFA letter to the SLFA read.
"This is a time-consuming administrative process therefore, and without prejudice to the timelines that apply for the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for the suspension to be lifted in time for Sierra Leone’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana on Thursday, 11 October 2018, any written confirmation that the above-mentioned condition has been met should be submitted by no later than today, 9 October 2018 at 18,00 (CET)."
If the ban is not lifted before 11 October, Sierra Leone's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Ghana will be cancelled. The return fixture is scheduled for 15 October.
In a bid to avoid forfeiting the Ghana game, Chief Minister Prof David Francis called a meeting on Monday with all the feuding parties and agreed that
Sports minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh and the ACC had threatened to defy FIFA and forfeit the match against Ghana, damning the consequences.
181009 Appeal for lifting of suspension
However following the intervention of the Chief Minister, the parties agreed for the FIFA-reocgnised Johansen administration to write to the Swiss-based body to appeal for the ban to be lifted.
They also agreed for a delegation including all parties to be sent to be sent to Zurich as soon as possible to seek an amicable solution for the an to be permanently lifted.
They also agreed to start an internal mediation process for a peaceful settlement to be found.
The ACC says that, under Sierra Leone law, both SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara must vacate their posts until their case on corruption-related charges concludes.
Both Johansen and Kamara have denied any wrongdoing.
Fifa had repeatedly warned Sierra Leonean authorities the ACC's actions could result in a ban and, in a letter dated 28 September, sought a meeting with the government to address the impasse.
While the government has claimed it had nothing to do with the ACC's actions, Fifa outlaws 'undue influence from any third party'.
Sierra Leone are one of four teams with three points in Group F, which also includes Ethiopia and Kenya.