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Fifa Investigates Freetown Attack On Lone Star

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Monrovia – The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) has opened disciplinary investigation into threats and mistreatment of Liberia national football team players and fans in Freetown by host Sierra Leonean fans.

 The Liberian national team was attacked during their last training session in Freetown ahead of their 2022 World Cup qualifier with Sierra Leone forcing the team to call-off its training.

The Lonestar of Liberia had gone to train when angry fans began throwing stones and physically attacking the team.

 Following the unsportsmanship behavior SLFA condemned the attack on their victors.    

The SLFA’s statement reads: “Following reports of threats and intimidation by some Sierra Leone football supporters towards the Liberian National team. The SLFA wishes to inform the public that it unequivocally disassociates itself from any of the violence or intimidation in football.”

SLFA said that “The isolated event which made rounds in social media was an unfortunate reflection of one of the ills in football that the SLFA strongly advocates against.”

The incident that was reported to FIFA by the Liberia Football Association resulted into the   Football of International Football Association (FIFA) mandating Sierra Leone to write a letter guaranteeing the safety of the Liberian national football team players and fans before the return leg can go ahead, something SLFA did and the game kickoff but on a sad note as the Liberian team was stoned while coming on the pitch.

The match that saw Lone Star progressing to the group stage of the African World Cup qualifiers on a 3-2 aggregate was not just a normal football match as traveling fans’ bus tire was destroyed with away fans sustaining injury as a result of attack on them by supporters of Sierra Leone.

 FIFA in a communication to the Sierra Leonean FA dated September 11, 2019, noted that the instigation is in line with Article 52 of FIFA disciplinary code   

 Article 52 states “Disciplinary measures may be imposed on associations and clubs where a team fails to conduct itself properly. In particular:

a) a fine may be imposed where the referee sanctions at least five members of the same team during a match (caution or expulsion); 

b) a fine of at least CHF 10,000 may be imposed where several players or officials from the same team threaten or harass match officials or other persons. Further sanctions may be imposed in the case of serious offences.”

 The letter also states the world governing body will refer to the 2019 disciplinary code of FIFA relating to order and security at matches.  

Article 16: “Order and security at Matches 1. Host clubs and associations are responsible for order and security both in and around the stadium before, during and after matches. They are liable for incidents of any kind and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives unless they can prove that they have not been negligent in any way in the organization of the match. In particular, associations, clubs and licensed match agents who organize matches shall: a) assess the degree of risk posed by the match and notify the FIFA bodies of those that are especially high-risk; 

b) comply with and implement existing safety rules (FIFA regulations, national laws, international agreements) and take every safety precaution demanded by the circumstances in and around the stadium before, during and after the match and if incidents occur;

 c) ensure the safety of the match offi cials and the players and officials of the visiting team during their stay; 

TITLE II. OFFENCES 17 d) keep local authorities informed and collaborate with them actively and effectively; e) ensure that law and order are maintained in and around the stadiums and that matches are organised properly. 2. All associations and clubs are liable for inappropriate behaviour on the part of one or more of their supporters as stated below and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can prove the absence of any negligence in relation to the organization of the match:

 a) the invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play;  

b) the throwing of objects; c) the lighting of fireworks or any other objects; 

d) the use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices;  

e) the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature; 

f) acts of damage; g) causing a disturbance during national anthems; h) any other lack of order or discipline observed in or around the stadium.

 According to FIFA, the matter will be referred to the next meeting of it disciplinary committee that will be held on September 30, 2019 after which the final judgment will be made.

 Meanwhile, the Sierra Leonean FA has been mandated to provide its position to FIFA disciplinary committee  secretariat  with in six days commencing  September 11, 2019 and if they fail FIFA will  decide on the case using the file in their possession.

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