Monrovia - The Liberia Football Association (LFA) has refuted media reports that its cherished sponsor, Cellcom GSM/Orange, has faulted on its responsibility.
A March 2 release by communications consultant Horatio Willie, which was posted on Facebook, described the reports of Cellcom’s failure to live up to its sponsorship obligation as evil and against the growth of football.
It said the LFA is now providing support to the clubs for the league through support from Cellcom, which has remained to its commitment to support the league over the last seven years.
The LFA believes such massive cooperation and support will continue as Orange takes over from Cellcom. It said it will continue to partner with Cellcom/Orange for the commercial development of football.
The LFA 2016/2017 national league has been put on ice due to a strike by clubs in demand of a promised financial assistance by LFA President Musa Bility from the Cellcom/Orange sponsorship deal and Fifa financial assistance program (FAP).
But LFA treasurer Jallah D. Corvah blamed Cellcom/Orange for the strike.
“The FA President was the one, who promised the teams that the fact that we have increment in the support from Fifa, we were going to see how best we can give the teams some money. We planned that the money will come from Cellcom.
“Cellcom has changed its management from Cellcom to Orange. So because of that we have some delays in the receiving of the money from Cellcom.
So we are not paying the teams because Cellcom has not provided the money because the President said that the money was going to come from the sponsorship from Cellcom,” Corvah told Weekend Sports on Fabric 101.1FM on February 25.
At a general meeting on December 19, 2016, Bility promised to give first division clubs US$7,000, second division clubs US$3,000 and female clubs US$2,000 from the Cellcom/LFA three-year deal of US$650,000 and Fifa FAP of US$50,000 allocated for members with a functioning men’s league 10 days after the meeting.
There have been no league matches since NPA Anchors and Mighty Blue Angels drew 3-3 in the second division and Mighty Barrolle and Keitrace FC settled for a goalless draw in the first division at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on February 22.
Matches between winless-Invincible Eleven and LPRC Oilers on February 24; LISCR and ELWA United on February 25 and BYC and Nimba United on February 26 were postponed respectively.
But LFA competitions committee chairman Ansu Dulleh confirmed that the league was called-off to redesign the fixtures in order for Barrack Young Controllers (BYC) and Monrovia Club Breweries, who were involved in Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup, to catch-up with the rest of the teams, who have played more games.
“The league is not at equilibrium. There are teams that have played 10 and nine games while others played six or seven games.
So we had to reschedule the fixtures to allow other teams equal with everybody.
“So we have to postpone games for that. So it is not logical for someone to sit in studio and say there was a protest from one little team called ELWA United that what led to the postponement of the league,” Dulleh told Weekend Sport on February 25.
But where in the world a league is suspended due to outstanding games?
In South Africa and Spain, the leagues weren’t postponed because Mamelodi Sundowns and Real Madrid were involved in the 2016 Fifa Club World Cup in December in Japan.
Valencia beat Real 2-1 in the La Liga in one of their rescheduled games on February 23.
Sundowns have played 14 games and are having a fixture pile-up with reschedule games to catch-up with the rest of the teams, who have either played 18 or 19 games in the Absa Premier League.
They beat Free State Stars 4-1 in their eighth league game at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on December 3, 2016 before leaving for Japan where they lost 2-0 to Kashima Antlers of Japan on December 11 and 4-1 to South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors on December 14, 2016 respectively.
Sundowns beat Baroka 1-0 away on December 22, 2016 in game nine and have played five games in 2017.
They beat Bloemfontein Celtics 1-0 away on February 8; Orlando Pirates 6-0 at home on February 11; drew 1-1 away to Chippa United on February 14; beat Platinum Stars 2-1 away on February 21 and Bidvest Wit 2-0 on February 25.
The truth, which was reconfirmed by FC Fassell and BYC in a TalkFootball chatroom on Facebook, is that the league was suspended due to a communication signed by all first division clubs.
“I, Reginald K. Nagbe, in collaboration with other club Presidents, will not play any league.
The President of the Liberia football Association (LFA) also agreed with us in our last meeting. He gave the league sponsor 10 days.
“If and only if they don't provide the resources to run the league, he will close down the league. Yes, there is a strike action because the 10 days expired on Friday [February 24].
Mr. Bility told us that if Cellcom or Orange refused to give the money he will close the league,” wrote FC Fassell President Nagbe.
“That's not what you and myself discussing. I am talking about using simple logic because if that was the case, then the clubs should have played their outstanding games. So what is the break about?[You need to] speak to the spokesman of the clubs, Hon. [Adolphus] Dolo,” said BYC President Sekou Konneh.