Why Is LIberia’s Weah Flirting With A Failed Legacy?


IN HIS PRIME, George Weah sat at the top of world football.

IN 1995, HE WAS NAMED FIFA World Player of the Year and won the covet Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win the title. In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. 

WEAH WAS CELEBRATED around the world for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, complemented by his ability to score goals at will, leaving his opponents dragging at the tail end of his feet.

WEAH PROUDLY REPRESENTED LIBERIA at international levels, twice at the African Cup of Nations, winning 75 caps and scoring 18 goals for his country. 

IN 2005, MR. WEAH hung up his boots in pursuit of politics. After losing the 2005 Presidential elections to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Mr. Weah finally won the presidency in 2017.

THE FIRST THREE years of his presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption, bad governance and a poorly-run country that is so far struggling to gain international support.

MR. WEAH’S DECISION to allow officials in his government to have their way to his own detriment is becoming as painful to watch as a graphic horror movie.

THIS WEEK, Mr. Weah’s legacy took a major hit when the Confederation of Africa Football ( CAF) placed a ban placed on the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.

ALTHOUGH THE BAN was later rescinded the continent’s sports governing body, the decision to ban Liberia dealt a major blow to Mr. Weah’s comfort zone. 

IN THE PRESIDENT’S OWN WORDS, his love for the sports is an inborn tendency and can never go away. “So please forgive me whenever you see me on a sports pitch, please forgive me – that doesn’t change who I am. It’s where I came from, is the pitch that brought me to this honorable office and we can’t forsake where we came from, this is why you see me with you all the time.”

WE GET IT. In the same vein, President Weah owes it to himself to ensure that the one area he’s good at is never blemished.

WHY DID IT have to lead to a CAF communication to take cleaning of the biggest football haven seriously?

IN A COMMUNICATION to the Liberia Football Association through its secretary-general Isaac Montgomery on May, 2, 2021, CAF deputy secretary-general Anthony Baffoe indicated that the  SKD Sports Complex “doesn’t meet the set CAF stadium minimum requirements and consequently is not approved for the qualifying matches”. 

THE COMMUNICATION further Stated that CAF has given the LFA up to  May 7, 2021 to select a neutral and approved venue within CAF’s territories to host their “home matches”. 

MR. BAFFOE’S COMMUNICATION also stated incase the LFA failure to provide the requested information, CAF will fix the venue in the opponent’s home stadium. “Once again, we emphasize that quality stadiums are fundamental for the development and progress of African football, hence the regulations and its requirements compliance be implemented strictly by CAF,” Baffoe said.

SPORTS MINISTER ZEOGAR WILSON would later inform the press that upon getting the information from CAF, he immediately phoned the Chief Patron of Sports, President Weah who intervened swiftly into the matters, prompting CAF to put a hold on its decision until May 6, when the stadium review meeting with the LFA and CAF. 

THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE and clearly shows that those appointed by the President are not doing their jobs. Yet, Mr. Weah keeps them on amid murmurs that he is simply unable or incapable of making important executive decisions.

THE CAF BAN is just one of the many lapses exposing President Weah’s leadership flaws. His inability to effect change when it is necessary suggest that he is either inept or simply incapable of effecting changes to his own good.

IF THE PRESIDENT, a former World Footballer of the Year, can president over a government where its main football mecca is condemned to filth, prompting the President to place a call to CAF to intervene, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government has a serious problem on its hand. 

THOSE SITTING IN THE CORRIDORS of power and enjoying the President’s ears must for once get off the sycophancy wagon and speak truth when it matters most.

PRESIDENT WEAH MAY HAVE been able to intervene and use his influence to put off a ban, but what about the next time? Is there even enough money in the national budget for sports? 

PRESIDENT WEAH should take a page from the book of the one man responsible for creating the environment for him to flourish. 

THE LATE PRESIDENT SAMUEL Kanyon Doe was not without his flaws but what he did for football has never and may never be duplicated, except perhaps, by President Weah, if he so desires to salvage, what’s left of his presidency – or his legacy.