Sierra Leone and its beleaguered federation president Isha Johansen have been plunged back into the spotlight after the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) raided the federation’s offices.
Last week, the ACC sent a letter Johansen saying she and her secretary general Chris Kamara should vacate their posts while they are being investigated.
“Staff at the SLFA offices have been warned not to have any business with Johansen and Kamara and not to allow them into the secretariat,” Alhassan Kargbo, the deputy director of the Public Education and Outreach Department at the ACC, told the BBC. SLFA staff were allowed to continue with their work, but the ACC warned them that “anyone who goes against the orders will face the law.”
Both Johansen and Kamara have long been embroiled in a bitter power struggle but deny any wrongdoing. Johansen claims she is the victim of trumped-up charges designed to stop her carrying out an inquiry into match-fixing and corruption perpetrated by high-ranking opponents.
Since 2014, 11 officials and four players have been suspended by the SLFA due to match-fixing. However, a proper investigation is still pending and Johansen claims to have received numerous death threats in recent years.
In July an extra-ordinary congress, part of a road map set out by FIFA to pave the way for a new SLFA executive committee, had to be postponed after the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) said it would be submitting a draft of its new statutes.
Ahead of Tuesday’s raid by the ACC, FIFA said it was “closely monitoring developments and plans to provide the Member Associations Committee with an update on 26 September.”
“FIFA continues to expect that the agreed roadmap is strictly adhered to by all parties,” said world football’s governing body in a statement.
Johansen’s mandate as president officially expired in August but although she has been previously been set aside by the SLFA Executive Committee, FIFA refused to recognise this decision and continues to work with her. Johansen has built a strong relationship with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
Due to the divisions within the SLFA, the country has been without a domestic league for four years.