Liberia Football Referee Association Upholds CAF’s Yekeh Suspension
Monrovia – The Liberia Football Referee Association (LFRA) has upheld the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) suspension of Liberia’s FIFA badged referee, Jerry Yekeh.
Report by Christopher C. Walker, [email protected]
The experienced Liberian referee has suspended over his alleged involvement in the bribery scandal video recently released by investigative Ghanaian journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
CAF said the Liberian referee Yekeh, along with 10 other referees, are suspended until August 5 when they will face CAF Disciplinary Board.
Anas released a shocking video of how match officials on the African continent received bribes to influence the results of matches locally and internationally.
It featured over 110 referees and other top class football officials in Africa. Prime among them was the president of Ghanaian Football Association (GFA), Kwesi Nyantakyi.
One of the video footages shows experienced Liberian referee Jerry Yekeh among some referees, who were receiving bribes ahead of the match between Ghana vs Mali in the 2017 WAFU Nation Cup held in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Although Yekeh was not captured receiving money like his colleagues did in the referee room, the Liberian was clearly seen in the video bringing some match materials in the room where the action was taking place and later went behind the scene.
According to Anas’ undercover reporters, all the referees that officiated Ghana’s games at the September 2017 West African Football Union (WAFU) Tournament held in Cape Coast were bribed.
The investigators made specific reference to the September 16, 2017 Group A match between hosts Ghana and Mali, which was officiated by Yekeh.
As shown, the referees were ushered in the room where Anas’ undercover reporters were giving out the cash by Charles Donwouna, a senior Ghanaian Technical Instructor, who was also in charge of referees at the 2017 WAFU Nations Cup.
Each of the official in the room received US$ 500 from the under covered reporters, who told them that they were for Team Ghana.
In a release issued Saturday, the Disciplinary Board of CAF announced the Jerry and 10 other officials have been suspended provisionally until they meet the board to clear themselves.
Eleven others have also been handed bans ranging from two to 10 years, while others have also been banned for life.
According to a press statement released by CAF, 10 of the affected referees, who hail from Ghana, have all been suspended “pending their appearance in front of the Disciplinary Board on 5th August 2018.”
The Ghanaian and other referees suspended are Reginald Lathbridge, Bello Aboudou, Eric Nantiere, Cecil Fleischer, Nathan Anafo, Ouedraogo Dawood, Salifu Malik, Theresa Akongyam, Badiu Ibrahim, Jerry Yekeh and David Laryea.
CAF in a statement said the decision was taken by its Disciplinary Board after a meeting held on July 7, 2018.
Anas and his Tiger Eye PI team in a two-year investigative piece exposed corruption in African football where some top referees in Africa and other sports officials were caught on video allegedly receiving “bribes” to tamper with outcomes of matches.
Anas subsequently petitioned FIFA, CAF and other football regulating bodies to sanction such officials.
The topmost official to have been affected by the video is Ghana’s FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi, who has since resigned his position.
He has also lost his position at both FIFA and CAF, as he continues to serve a 90-day ban by FIFA.
One affected official at the GFA, Communications Director Saanie Daara is fighting Anas in court.
But four times Liberia Football Association (LFA) Best Referee Award winner Jerry Yekeh has since denied any involvement in the transaction although he was on the scene of the action and was the senior match official in the game which Ghana won 1-0 against Mali.
Yekeh, however, admitted entering the room, but said it was the game sheet that he brought and laid on the table as seen in the video. He also denied seeing his colleagues receiving money contrary to the clear video evidence.
There have been calls in some quarters of the football circle in Liberia for Yekeh to abstain from all refereeing activities until an investigation is done, but the Liberia Football Referee Association (LIFRA) has refused to bow to the call.
Speaking to newsmen in Monrovia, the Director of Referees at the Liberia Football Association, Ebenezer Konah, they accept the decision from CAF.
“On Saturday, we received the communication from CAF banning and suspending some referees from Africa, unfortunately, our referee Jerry Yekeh was mentioned in that document.”
“The LFA upholds that suspension on Jerry Yekeh. He remains suspended until he meets the disciplinary board of CAF and clears his name. Jerry will not participate in anything that has to do with referee or football in Liberia until investigation is clear and CAF can come out with their findings,” Konnah said.
The former FIFA badged referee considers Yekeh’s suspension as painful because he is one of the best referees in Liberia.
“We condemn the action of accepting money by referees to fix matches,” Ebenezer Konnah added.