Liberia’s Lone Star Coach James Debbah “Brutalizes” Sports Journalist
Monrovia – The national football team of Liberia head coach James Debbah is under fire after allegedly brutalizing sports journalist Danesius Marteh of UNMIL Radio.
The incident reportedly occurred last Saturday, August 26, 2017 at Fabric Radio, a local radio station in Monrovia.
Report by Christopher C. Walker – [email protected]
Marteh was allegedly assaulted by Debbah at the end of a sports program on Fabric Radio which is jointly presented by Trojan Molley Kiazolu, Sylvester Worwee and Marteh every Saturday from midday to 1:30PM.
Debbah had requested his appearance to discuss issues surrounding seven months of salary arrears owed the national team coaches by the Liberia Football Association.
During the program, which was started by Mr. Kiazolu (lead producer and presenter), several issues ensued, including Debbah’s stewardship of the national team, the preparation for the WAFU Nations Cup in Ghana in September and his critical stance against Bility prior to his appointment in November 2014.
Debbah was reminded by Marteh about a Facebook post on October 5, 2013 in which he labelled Bility a “novice and neophyte to football development” and a December 29, 2016 comment at a news conference in which he described Bility as the “the Best LFA president ever”.
Debbah initially denied ever making denigrating comments about Bility on Facebook.
But Marteh took a break to get a computer and read verbatim what Debbah wrote on Facebook as stated below:
(What a shame!) Contrary to the FIFA Statute that permit any sports loving person to contest the presidency of any football entity under its umbrella, today members of the LFA voted unanimously to allow only LFA Executive Committee eligibility to contest the Presidency of the FA in its forth coming election in March 2014 – what a mockery!
“I am not surprised.”
Mr. Bility saw me as an eminent threat. That is why he has been scheming every possibility to disqualify me and perhaps other technocrats that are well versed in this capacity.
Musa Bility is a neophyte to football development. He is devoid of the technical ability to manage football.
His leadership is incoherent, there is nothing appealing that Bility and cohorts can come up with to make us dream of the old days.
By the way, what happened to the “Merit System?” Musa Bility ascension at the helm of football development is what we describe as “Political Compensation!”
I am done with Football in Liberia. I am packing-up and leaving to go spend more time with my kids.”
After reading Debbah’s Facebook post, it tripped down memory lane and in a closing comment by Marteh when he said Debbah has proven to be “consistently inconsistent” since his appointment in November 2014. This comment angered the coach.
Marteh also buttressed LFA Vice President for Administration Musa Shannon’s statement by saying if Debbah feels he’s being owed seven months’ salary, he should resign and stop complaining.
Further in his closing comment, Marteh said he supports Shannon calling on Debbah to step down if he is aggrieved over his salary.
At this point, Debbah could not condone Marteh’s assertion, thereby leading to heated exchanges between the pair.
Trojan had to abruptly call off the program at this point.
Before abruptly calling off the show, Debbah left guests cubicle and evaded the control room where his hosts, including Danesius were seated and landed a punch in his face.
The UNMIL radio sports reporter suffered a bruised knee and face.
Speaking to FPA, Marteh said he has complained Debbah’s action to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Liberia Football Association (LFA), Liberia National Police (LNP) and the West African Journalist Association (WAJA) about the attack on him while carrying on his reportorial duty.
Marteh said he will also complain head coach of the national team of Liberia to CAF and FIFA.
He further stated: “Debbah’s assault was premeditated, because he told Sylvester Worwee after a 4-1 defeat to Tunisia in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier that he will fight me because of my criticisms since his appointment.”
It can be recalled that Marteh has been attacked on several occasions by national team players, security, and ban by the LFA for his critical stands on the LFA something that is not good for the development of Football in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the family of Mr. Marteh has condemned the physical attack on their son by Coach Debbah.
According to the Marteh family, they are considering legal action against Debbah for assaulting their son.
Debbah’s action on Journalist Marteh is not his first un-sportsmanship against journalist in Liberia since taking over the national team as head coach in 2014.
At one of the national team training sessions at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, Debbah ordered the current president of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia Roland Mulbah out of the Stadium for using comments that he claimed were not good.
The SWAL President said he was hit by securities of the LFA on orders of Debbah but the national team coach denied Roland’s claim.
The former Liberian striker now coach got into trouble with sports journalist in June of 2017 for comments he made against members of the association branding them as “so-called sports journalists who report only speculated stories”.
SWAL on June 16, 2017 issue a statement condemned in the strongest possible term his comments and called on him to apologize or face tougher action from the media.
SWAL described Debbah’s comment as a complete disrespect to all Liberian Sports Journalists who have exhibited the highest level of professionalism in supporting the growth of football and the national team over the years.
When contacted on the matter Debbah said he was not willing to speak to the issues of Journalist Marteh.
Meanwhile, the LFA is yet to comment on the incident.