LFA Elections: Raji, Konneh, Others Retained

LFA president Mustapha Raji accompanied by his vice president for Administration Sekou Konneh.  

Mustapha Raji will continue his mandate as president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) for the next four years following his re-election on a white ballot.

During his first term, Raji inherited the Liberia Football Association (LFA) at a time when it was in total ruin, engulfed in half a million U.S. dollars worth of debts, and suffering from systematic corruption, declining public interest, as well as retrenchment of investments in the sport both from the public and the national government.

The biggest hurdle among the inherited problems was the financial sanction placed on the football association by FIFA, restricting funding from the world football governing body to the LFA.  A little over 60 percent of LFA’s income is received from FIFA, according to the football house’s budget analysis. With this, Raji could not kick off his vision to improve the footballing sector of the country. Instead, he had to begin “correcting the wrongs” before moving any further.

But in a space of a year — after his election in 2018 — Raji and his team managed to clear all financial debts which includes addressing the liabilities of not just the employees but also vendors and the debts of the former national team players. The biggest hurdle — the financial sanction was removed a year later, in 2019, after reforming the LFA and making it more profitable.

He was challenged by a system that has for decades failed to effectively develop grassroots football for the development of the country’s future footballers, hamstringing not only the available players but also the sport itself in Liberia. However, his leadership of the LFA led a once-neglected women’s football league to gain attention and has now become popular.

Women’s football has long existed in Liberia with little support and little interest from women and girls playing football. The competition existed, but only among a few clubs for the championship cash prize. The LFA, with support from FIFA and CAF through a COVID-19 relief fund, provided each of the nine women’s football teams in the upper division US$11,666 and US$7,000 to the nine clubs in the lower division.

As a result of his hardwork, the Daily Observer’ in 2021 named Raji and alone side as the paper Persons of the Year — for showing that the forces of pragmatism are greater than the furies of neglect, and ideals; for creating opportunities for the future generation of Liberia who may not have otherwise been able to have in their lifetime.

The award is an annual accolade given by the Daily Observer, which profiles a person, a group of persons, or an institution that has made a significant impact on the country and its people on a national scale.   The Person of the Year is a change-maker and a pace-setter, impacting the lives of the people directly and, for now, Brenda and Raji are doing just that and have shown that their pragmatic work ethics are worth emulating if the country will move forward.

Also, visible aspect of the achievements made under the Raji leadership can be seen and, after several years of using the Antoinette Tubman Stadium as the FA’s main venue for crucial league games, the FA now has the refurbished Tusa Field in Gardnersville, Doris Williams Stadium in Grand Bassa, Technical Center in Careysburg and a new SKD mini-stadium in Paynesville, to host league matches.  Other projects have been approved. The Gonpa Stadium, the Willis Knuckles stadium, in Maryland, Grand Gedeh, and Voinjama among others will be worked on.

Raji is now joined by a new team of leaders to run the affairs of Liberian football for the next stipulated period after congress voted to retain and oust some of his first batch of Executive Committee Members (EC).

Congress overwhelmingly voted to retain Vice President for Administration Mr. Sekou Konneh, who accumulated 73.8 percent (31 votes) of the total 42 votes against Rochell Woodson (11 votes). Unfortunately, things did not go the same way for incumbent Vice President for Operations, Wilmont Smith, as he was defeated by Nimba FC CEO and President Adolphus Dolo.

Mr. Dolo accumulated a similar 73.8 percent (31 votes) of the total 42 votes cast, while Smith got 10 votes. At the level of the EC, five of the six incumbents including Pawala Janyan (38 votes), Kelvin Bayoh (35 votes), Ivan G. Brown (37 votes), Nyemah Nyanway (28 votes), and Cyrus Yeanay (23 votes), who were seeking re-election, retained their positions.  Quiwu Pepci Yeke, Executive Director of the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), was the lone incumbent that was voted out.

The first-time ECs include Anthony Z. Deinuka (39 Votes), former Assistant Youth and Sports Minister Murvee V. Gray (25 votes), Ministry of Health’s Comptroller General and President of Watanga FC, K. Jlateh Sayor (35 votes) and Freeport FC president Tickly D. Monkoney, Jr. (30 votes).

The elections were observed by representatives from FIFA and CAF. Following the climax of Monday’s congress, FA president Raji congratulated the winners of the elections and called on all football stakeholders, including those who did not win, to work together in the interest of football.