Monrovia – There’s a looming controversy over why the Ministry of Youth of Sports decided to suddenly change the fixture of the semifinals in the County Meet without the concern of the involved counties’ authorities.
Many believe that the sudden change is an attempt to create an easy ride for Grand Kru County – a push they say President George Manneh Weah is allegedly quietly making.
But the Ministry of Youth and Sports in a press conference on Wednesday, January 22, debunked the allegation, stating they possess the authority to change the fixture at will.
“Matters not provided for under the rules and regulations shall be decided by the Organizing Committee that means it was in the authority of the committee to adjust the fixture, so whatever the organizing committee did was justified,” Sports Minister Zeogar Wilson said.
The Sports Ministry which has taken advantage of their right to change the fixture at any time of the competition, disclosed that they issued the original fixture, including the quarter and semifinals, to all counties. On this fixture, the Ministry had stated which team was going to play what.
Explaining further to the media, Minister Wilson said after the preliminary games his Deputy Minister for Sports, G. Andy Quamie, who is also a FIFA and CAF Match Commissioner, observed that two teams from the same group could meet in the semifinals so they had to adjust the fixture.
“Page four section 7.0 article 7 of the rules quarter and semifinals 7.1 says at the end of the preliminary of the group stage of the four groups the first and second place teams will qualify for the quarterfinals matches shall be played in accordance with the following, winner of Group C vs runner up Group A while winner of Group D vs runner up of Group B,” he said.
According to the original fixture that was sent to all of the counties, in the semifinal the winner of the game 45, i.e. Grand Kru which defeated Rivercess 2-0, should play the winner of game 46 i.e. Maryland which won Sinoe 6-5 from the penalty spot, while the winner of the game 49 i.e. Lofa was to play winner of game 50 Nimba, which secured a 4-1 victory over Gbarpolu County.
But the adjusted fixture which many believe was to give Grand Kru County of President Weah an easy match, will now face Lofa of former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai while Maryland of House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Nimba of Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, will battle in Thursday’s last game.
However, he admitted that the adjusted fixture was never sent to the teams and media which he said was not intentional. However, many are wondering why the Ministry waited until a day to the match to confirm the fixture when Deputy Minister Quamie posted the fixture on his Facebook page.
Min. Wilson, a former Mighty Barrolle keeper, apologized that after their analysis, they did not inform the public nor the media on time about such decision. He added, however, that their action did not mean that they were compromised.
Following the adjustment, Minister Wilson disclosed and endorsed that the semifinals games, which begin on Thursday, January 23, at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City will now see Grand Kru vs Lofa while Nimba vs Maryland, respectively.
Minister Wilson took to Facebook prior to Grand Kru and Rivercess quarterfinal match to say it was the President’s day as his (president’s) mother and father’s counties were playing, something some say shows some signs of compromise.
Grand Kru, which has not qualified for the quarterfinals, booked their ticket on the last day of the group match over River Gee with a 2-0 victory, a game that River Gee played below standard. Because of this weak display of their talent, which was far below their previous games, made people to accuse them of match-fixing but the Organizing Committee is yet to act.
FrontPageAfrica has been informed that even a senior official of government and a prominent citizen of Rivercess County informed his players that each one of them was to be given US$200 each whether they had won or lost against Grand Kru as the game was needed by his boss, whose name wasn’t given. But fingers have been pointed at the President to be the boss. Rivercess eventually lost to the President’s county, Grand Kru 2-0.
Minister Wilson at the end of his press conference said the owner of Spoon FC and TV has promised to give L$1 million to Grand Kru County if the team reaches the final while they will give the same amount for the winner and loser of the final.
His statement to announce an individual giving out of money to a particular county is considered as now professional from the Minister when he is been accused of favoring Grand Kru because it is the President’s interest.
There have been several personalities making donations to their respective counties but the Minister or his Ministry did not announce those donations to the public.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, D. Zeogar Wilson, has clarified contrary to report that the Ministry has not and will never be compromised.
“We are a professional people and we do a professional job as such no amount of influence can change our professional job,” he added.
Speaking to reporters at a news Conference Wednesday, Min. Wilson clarified that neither he nor his deputies received any calls from the President including duty bearers to change or thwart the fixture.
He told reporters that President George Weah is the President of all counties and his only interest is to ensure that the focus of the theme of the County Meet: “Sustaining the Peace Through Sports,” is realized.