Sierra Leone: Football Association Elects New President After Years of Pain, Delays

(file photo).

The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has elected a new president, after three years of delay caused by rancor among football stakeholders.

Thomas Daddy Brima was elected on Saturday at the end of the much-anticipated SLFA Congress.

But the two-day congress, which was held in the northern town of Makeni, has been clouded by talks of interference from the political class after one popular candidate for the presidency withdrew from the race.

Rodney Michael, a top football administrator, shocked the country after announcing he was withdrawing his candidature a day before the congress. A section of the local media reported that he had been forced to step down by the administration of President Julius Maada Bio.

Michael's withdrawal also came a day after he was cleared to contest the presidency by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, which ruled in his favour in an appeal against his disqualification by the Ethics Committee of the SLFA.

Football stakeholders and fans hope that Saturday's development marks the beginning of a new era for the sport, which has been shrouded in conflict for the last eight years.

The new SLFA president, Brima, is an ally of the incumbent president Isha Johansen, who also withdrew her candidacy in the last minute.

Johansen, Africa's first elected female FA president, had been at the helm of the SLFA since 2013. But her tenure was characterised by conflict and allegations of corruption and maladministration which led to the suspension of football activities for years.

She had been accused of deliberately delaying the congress by repeatedly postponing it to avoid an election. Clashes between her and successive governments led to repeated threats of sanctions from Fifa.

While announcing her decision to step down, Johansen said she had to concentrate on her new role as a Fifa Council member which requires her to play "a higher level and more active role" as global ambassador for football.

Johansen was also recently elected into the executive of the African football governing body, CAF.

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