Monrovia — After all, President George Weah's 14 jersey is not fully retired. It keeps making its way back to the pitch, regardless of what some citizens may consider as more serious and heart-burning national issues that need the President's attention instead of soccer.
President Weah is expected to play for both sides in the ECOWAS Parliament soccer match versus the Liberian Legislature headed by Speaker Bhofal Chamber on Sunday, September, 15 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia.
The soccer match is a side attraction to the first-ever ECOWAS Extraordinary Session outside its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria; being the guest of honor at the Session, President Weah has been invited to feature in the soccer match.
President Weah's participation in the match was disclosed by Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, Bomi County's District 1 representative at the House. He's also the head of the Liberian delegation to the regional parliament.
President Weah is also member Senator and a former member of the regional parliament.
Mr. Isaac G. Redd, Director for Press and Public Affairs at the House of Representatives, confirmed the match with a post to his Facebook page "Liberian Legislature Vs. ECOWAS PARLIAMENT Sunday September 15 @ ANTOINETTE TUBMAN STADIUM 4:00 PM". His post was accompanied by pictures of flags of Liberia and ECOWAS, 14 jersey and 4 jersey.
Liberia national football team's 14 jersey is iconic - it's the jersey worn by Weah during his active days on the national team. He was the inspiration of famous 'Weah 11' team.
In September 2018, President Weah decided to 'retire' the 14 jersey after featuring in a friendly match between the Lonestar of Liberia and the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the SKD Stadium in Liberia.
President Weah came out of retirement and featured for the national team by wearing the armband in the country's 1-2 loss to Nigeria.
To the surprise of many, Weah, 51, played 79 minutes standard football before he was substituted and handed the armband to LISCR FC defender Kemoh Kamara. It was earlier planned that the game would go for a break in the final quarter of an hour for the formal program marking the retirement of the #14 jersey to be held, but the 51-year-old, with so much zest to play but not enough energy, ordered the match to continue.
Weah, former World Footballer of the Year and star of AC Milan, Chelsea and Monaco, was elected President of Liberia in a landslide victory just in 2017. Having been raised in one of Liberia's worst slums, many saw him as a man who understood the needs of the poor. But some now doubt that he will deliver on campaign promises to help lift people out of poverty.
In March this year, Montserrado County District 10 Representative, Yekeh Kolubah, took to the House of Representatives a framed number 14 jersey and a football to present to President George Manneh Weah.
Rep. Kolubah's move, according to him, was based on his observation that President Weah had over the time been using huge sums of taxpayers' money on foreign visits where he is often presented with the number 14 jersey.
For President Weah, the number 14 jersey is symbolic to his success in his professional football career in Europe.
"The interpretation of this gift is that the President should stop using the Liberian people's resources to go and run after jersey - we have serious issues here; by now, people should have been arrested for the US$25 million that was taken from our reserves including the extra US$20 million that was taken from our reserves.
"So, we brought this football, we brought his jersey, since he believes in football and jersey, we're going to bring the red card and whistle and give it to him so that he'll stop running around," Rep. Kolubah said.
"I'm going to give it (the 'gift') to his principal deputy, the Speaker. For each time we bring matters on the floor, the Speaker does not allow it on the floor. We have done so many letters on so many occasions to send for officials to come before us to explain to us... For each time we do the communication to the Speaker he doesn't put it on the floor. Have we become security to the President? I'm not going to be security to the President," he said.
President Weah has on several occasions come under criticism for engaging in sporting activities when critical national issues needed to be addressed.
"We understand that he is a footballing President, but Pres. Weah must understand that we are in a national crisis, people are not happy. The economy is not getting any better, no hope. Harmonization is going on and people are complaining, yet our President is going to play a football game. This can't be serious," said James Kolleh, a civil servant.
Kolleh wondered if Pres. Weah is sensitive to the plights of the ordinary Liberians who feel the economic hardship the most.
Mary Saah, a marketer said, "We're talking serious thing in the country and our President talking about playing game? That's what we elected him for? We the market women cannot even get profit these days, when the U.S. rate is so high and the Lebanese people charging us too much for small goods," she lamented.