Liberia: FIFA-Sponsored Elite Referee Course Opens in Monrovia

A Fifa-sponsored elite referee course kicked off at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex with a call on the participants to be technicians and not politicians.

Zimbabwe's Felix Tangawarima urged the referees to refrain from making public comments, which could have a reflection on their performance.

"You cannot be a referee and you are all on social media making all sorts of comments. You cannot be a politician and referee at the same time," he advised.

Tangawarima praised the Liberia Football Association (LFA) for helping to promote the integrity of the game by providing referees' indemnity without delay.

"Before I came to Monrovia, I checked and found out that your FA have paid all your outstanding debts. That is good news because when you are owed, there is a high tendency for you to be compromised," said the Zimbabwean.

He advised referees, who want more money to find a second profession, because being a referee is a sacrificial job.

Acting LFA President Sekou Konneh, also encouraged referees to seek another profession to make them more independent.

Konneh said the LFA will do all it can to support good referees, while the bad guys will be named and shamed.

"Since we took over last year, we have suspended four referees, who crossed the red lines. Those who deserved to be praised will be praised, because they see football differently from those who want to corrupt the game," Konneh added.

Deputy Sports Minister Andy Quamie, appealed to Felix and Malawi's Mark Mzenga to help promote Liberian referees.

Quamie, who is a Fifa and Caf match commissioner, also encouraged his compatriots to raise the level of their performances.

"No Liberian referee has been to any major Caf or Fifa competition whether at under-17, under-20, under-23 or the Africa Cup of Nations finals. It is not good news, and I know it will change in the future. But first, you will have to raise your game. Caf cannot be reading that you were suspended for poor officiating, and you expect to get an assignment. "[Ghanaian investigative journalist] Anas Aremeyaw Anas has made referees to not speak to anybody now because they are afraid of being recorded. So it has removed the pressure of sympathy for you to referee your game according to the laws on the book," Quamie said.

Organized by the LFA with support from Fifa, the course will bring 30 Liberian referees, who will undergo fitness and technical scrutiny from May 12-16.

Fifa-badged referees Jerry Yekeh, George Rogers, Hassan Corneh and Sylvina Garnett as well as Fifa-badged assistant referees Johnson Gbartea, Sekou Kanneh and Joel Doe are attending the week-long course.

Ten young referees and eight referees from Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bomi and Margibi counties including senior national referees, Josephus Torjilar, will be drilled by Felix and Mark, who will oversee the technical aspects.

Felix and Mark will be assisted by former Fifa-badged Liberian referees Mason Goe and Idrissa Kaba, who will oversee technical and Joseph Hoff, who takes charge of the physical.

The opening ceremonies were graced by Liberia Football Referees Association (Lifra) President, Cllr. Joseph Kollie, who is an LFA executive committee member, acting LFA secretary-general John Bonah, LFA integrity officer Morris Nahndi Barsi Giah, Jr., LFA director of referees Stanley Konah, and LFA technical director Henry Browne.

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