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Special Feature

LOOKIN’ INSIDE FROM OUTSIDE: Football and Politics in Liberia

There are complaints upon complaints from the few individuals who govern the game of football or clubs in Liberia, against fans and spectators for the lack of interest in and support for the game. The Liberia Football Association or LFA and club Officials continue to be at the center of such complaints due to the poor turn-out at various games organized by the FA throughout the country.

For Liberian soccer fans and sympathizers, football is a mental therapy and heir lack of interest in the game is a result of its substandard mature. And this has been the situation since former LFA President Edwin Snowe introduced the premiership league some years back without first considering the capacities of clubs and FA’s prepare mess to meet the challenges characterizing a premiership league.

Without first instituting a reassessment regime, the Musa Biluity leadership decided to continue as Snowe started having inherited such from the Izetta Wesley administration. One difference between Bility and the two, according to one football analyst,  is the decision to reduce the two-phase league to one by the former, something  described as very discouraging about the present LFA administration.

One also needs to understand as to why the Annual National County Football Tournament continues to be so attractive, motivating and rewarding throughout the country despite being organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as compared to the LFA Premiership or Knockout leagues in recent times.

Perhaps, as one football observer said before, the Ministry of Youth and Sports  ( considered  a political institution)  does not only  exercise openness in planning, organizing and concluding the County meet, but  down-plays  the various ‘competing personal interests which most often negatively affect the game. This, many soccer enthusiasts believe, is the root cause of the decline in the love for football in Liberia. The infusion of politics into football at a very large scale is a major attributing factor to such decline.

Take for example, the current make-up of the country’s football-governing body, the LFA is completely political. When such make-up should be experienced individuals who have gone through the administrative and technical rudiments as far as football administration is concerned, it is about mere interests under the guise of ‘loving the game’.

If one took an introspective look at the administrative structure of FIFA, UEFA or even the English FA, he/she would realize that almost all of those entrusted with various responsibilities have all gone through the ranks and files of the game and associations, so much so that their experiences and technical know-how have amalgamated into the beauty of football in Europe. Other examples are the Ghanaian Football Association, Ivorian Football Association, as well as that of our next door neighbor, Sierra Leone.

Actually looking inside the LFA and considering the decisions and utterances of the leadership  on the conduct  and sponsorship of the game, relations between  it and clubs, as well as its programs, one can only deduced that the administration of football in Liberia current is  directed at projecting  certain political and selfish interests, something which continue to hunt the progress of contemporary Liberian football to the discouragement of fans, supporters and even sponsors.

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Not only is the current LFA administration responsible for the down-ward trend of Liberian soccer, but club administrations which have become absolutely politicized. For example, the Invincible Eleven Majestic and Mighty Barrolle Sports Associations now headed by politicians whose primary objectives are to use these clubs for political support in the wake of the ensuing Presidential and General Elections this year. Even though there may be a few individuals within these administrations who may want to make the difference, leaders of these clubs have been able build up shields for the time being against those very desirous of projecting the  institutional objectives of the clubs.

Just as it is being done in our governance system, agents of the main actors of the governance system continue to infiltrate our social and athletic structures, including sports for political reasons, thus subjecting such organizations and institutions to disintegration and lack of  growth and progress.

This is the main reason why  the love Liberian soccer fans, spectators and sponsors have for the game will continue to decline, and that European football will continue to intercede and attract their admiration and attention,

And until there is a realization by the authorities of the game, including the LFA, that there is no unity of purpose between Football and Politics and that the game cannot be used as springboard, the growth and development of football in Liberia will continue to move at a snail-pace.

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