“Unfair, Sad and Troubling”- Liberia Football Association Executive Describes Sierra Leoneans’ Treatment on Liberian Fans
Freetown, Sierra Leone – Disappointing and heartbreaking fans of the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone vented their anger on jubilant Liberians following their nation’s national football team’s qualification over their Sierra Leonean counterparts.
The Lone Star of Liberia qualified on a 3-2 aggregate against their neighbors on Sunday, September 8.
In Sierra Leone, Liberian fans’ jubilation turned sour when angry fans of the home stars threw stones and other harmful objects at them as they danced and sang inside the Siaka Steven Stadium. Though the Liberian side lost the match one zero, their team qualified on a one-goal home advantage.
The unfriendly Sierra Leonean fans later extended their anger outside the stadium chasing Liberians with missiles and blocking their movements at some points. They even deflated the tires of vehicles that were clearly Liberian marked. This the Liberia Football Association Executive Committee Member Pawala Janyan termed as “very disappointing.”
According to him, the behavior exhibited by the Sierra Leoneans were brutal, saddened and requires prompt action from the world football governing body, FIFA.
Social media videos and photos show that some Liberian fans sustained serious wounds and had to seeking medical attention.
Prior to the match, similar incident took place at the stadium when the players of Liberia including supporters were again attacked. Though the Sierra Leonean government promised maximum security protection for the entire delegation of Liberia prior to the match, but that was the opposite as Liberians were only at the mercy of God.
There are even reports that after the game, these unruly Sierra Leoneans even attacked and wounded four local Red Cross volunteers, who had provided first aid to Liberian players and fans when they got hurt on the field and in the stance.
In an interview with the LFA EC member, Janjan condemned the ugly and unfriendly act and called for swift intervention from FIFA to avoid the recurrence.
The situation has been greeted with hard feelings from Liberians back home and in the diaspora. Liberians have said they least expected this from Sierra Leoneans.
Janyan additionally noted that football is a game of good sportsmanship and not war and should be seen by all followers, fans and players as such.
He said result of the game is important but the safety and security of all is also paramount and should be encouraged by followers of the game.
Liberia’s result means that they have now qualified for the group stage of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Though the fans and delegates are returning home generally in happy and proud mood but others are feeling severe pains and have also sustained wounds as a result of the attacks by the Sierra Leoneans fans who felt they would have capitalized on their home soil to eventually qualify for the group stage of the world cup qualifiers.
Painfully, the Leone Stars’ captain Umaru Zaingaylay Bangoura missed a stoppage time penalty which was saved by young goalkeeper Ashley Williams who will now go down in history for Liberia by denying the fans of Sierra Leon from celebrating on home soil though they won the game, one zero.