Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
On November 12, through its Ad-Hoc Elections Committee, FIFA informed me of its decision to not admit me as a candidate in the ensuing FIFA Presidential Election. This decision is said to be based on an “investigative report on integrity” by the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee of FIFA.
I find this decision of FIFA to be unfair, troubling and disappointing. As such, I have appealed the same to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) urging that body to act with urgency in the disposition of this matter, in righting an obvious wrong against me, and in granting me general and specific reliefs to which they believe me to be justly entitled.
I am pleased that my notice of appeal has been found to be legally and procedurally sufficient so much so that it has been duly processed by the court, and that FIFA has been regularly informed. Within the statutory period required, I will perfect the appeal through detailed submissions to the Court. Let there be no mistake of my desire to right this obvious wrong.
When I embarked upon this most improbable of journeys, admittedly the only outsider to the inner chambers of FIFA, I understood the enormity of the task at hand – the
ersonal and financial costs to be borne, the growing call for reforms, and the need to make our global organization more inclusive. I believe myself to be prepared for these challenges.
Indeed, change is hard. But change we must, not only for ourselves, but for all who love the beautiful game of football, and all the possibilities it affords countries that are both big and small, as well as people who are both rich and poor. This game has brought all together in ways never imagined before.
Like in many parts of the world, Liberians understand the joy and possibilities of football. We have seen one of our own rise from lowly obscurity on our less than favorable
laying pitches to global renown at the pinnacle of the game.
It is for experiences like these and many more – for the unlimited possibilities, spirit of unity and unspeakable joy that football inspires – which I believe to be threatened –
hat I announced my candidacy.
This is why I find it mind-boggling that an ethics probe would admittedly be based on information from “tabloid-like” sources which are internationally unacceptable because it
bviously lacks credibility.
I appreciate that this is the first ever attempt by FIFA to be so engaged – to conduct integrity checks on candidates. Needless to say, I invited the scrutiny when I placed my
ame in public contention and am pleased that FIFA will conduct integrity checks on all candidates.
However, to rely on such quality of work, or lack thereof, for decision making of this scale and magnitude compels me to question the associated investigative protocols and standards as well as the seriousness of the scrutiny.
My team is compelled to wonder if this investigative standard and poor quality of work is deliberately restricted to my candidacy?
In the name of transparency which is so desperately needed, albeit in a limited way, should only the inner chambers of FIFA and not the voting federations know about the integrity of individuals into whose hands the future of football is to be placed?
Is it enough that such poor quality of work is admittedly carried out and its findings made exclusively to the inner chambers which proceeds to publicly disclose who is “qualified”, and therefore acceptable to the inner chambers?
Of course I believe the investigative probe should be of the highest standards in both quality and objectivity. I also believe that voting federations should benefit from these disclosures, if even in a limited way. The federations which will elect the President but also all inner chambers of FIFA deserve to know into whose hands they are placing the future of the global game of football.
This is why, in my appeal submissions, I am urging improved transparency. And this, also, is why I am calling on all candidates to permit voting federations some access to the investigative probe and findings.
Although, I disagree with many of the “investigative findings”, to the extent that it does not violate ongoing litigations between me and FIFA, I have instructed my team to share the information with various voting federations along with proof of its obviously poor quality.
As all will find, the Ad-Hoc Elections Committee mainly noted two types of breaches which it claimed undermined my eligibility as a candidate. One type consists of Liberian-related issues and the other has to do with my suspension by CAF. None of the alleged breaches in Liberia mentioned in the decision and the said investigative report have ever led to a guilty verdict in the courts of Liberia. In fact, the investigative report uncharacteristically admits a dismissal by the courts.
With regards to the CAF suspension, I have repeatedly indicated that I will always stand up for what is right. At the time, I discovered and spoke against issues associated with the governance of CAF, which in my considered judgment, was not in the best interests of the development of African football. CAF suspended me for six months. I lodged an appeal, but in the spirit of fraternity was urged to withdraw it for an amicable solution.
Thereafter, the suspension was lifted after only two months. How fair is the conclusion reached by the Ad-Hoc Elections Committee that I should be banned for that wrongful sanction?
Suffice to say, the history of the world is replete with grander tales of personal sacrifices, including “punishments”, in the advocacy for change.
And so, early Monday morning of this week, I surrendered the fate of my candidacy for FIFA Presidency onto the dockets of the CAS. I recognize fully the global size and capacities of the organization against whose decision to deny me I am appealing.
I do not do this light-heartedly. Actually, I do so with a heavy heart – one, like so many hearts around the world, which is filled with love and care about the future of football, and only seeks the best for the organization that has given so much to so many.
I continue to see in FIFA the potential to become a more inclusive organization and a powerful instrument not only for promoting football but for catalyzing development, inspiring dreams and promoting peace in national, regional and global communities. This is the vision of FIFA that inspires and motivates outsiders like me.
The shoddy intrusion on my integrity has not blurred this vision. I will continue to advocate and work to realize a reformed FIFA aware that no change or advocacy comes without a price.
Like everyone else, my only prized possession is my integrity, which I believe has been carelessly impugned upon, in an effort to deny me from the pursuit of this vision. Hence, the actions we have taken and others, based on legal counsel, which I intend to take will be dutifully communicated to the public by various members of my growing team of volunteers for which I am most grateful.
To all those who continue to wish me well and to wish FIFA well, for the good of the game, I thank all of you for your best wishes and kind support. Long may we keep football as the game that makes dreams come true. I will never stop dreaming.