Amid County Meet Controversy, MYS, MIA Declare Grand Kru Winners

Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson (R), and Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf at the joint press conference on Tuesday, January 28

Fines Nimba County US$1,500

The Ministries of Youth and Sports and Internal Affairs, joint organizers of the National County Sports Meet (NCSM) have announced that “Grand Kru County is the winner of the 2019/2020 National County Sports Meet.”

The decision comes two days after the grand final of the tournament’s football category ended in a deadlock due to a spot-kick controversy at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

Grand Kru County were a goal ahead from a spot-kick scored by captain Rufus Kennedy in the first half, until the controversy erupted five minutes into the second, when referee Hassan Corneh pointed to the spot, awarding Grand Kru county the second spot-kick.

The referee’s decision led to Nimba players walking off the pitch that was eventually flooded with spectators, thus bringing the game to an unsuccessful end.

It was from this backdrop that organizers, after “comprehending the reports submitted by the match officials as well as consultative engagement with our technical team and in strict adherence of the rules and regulations governing the tournament,” reached the decision to declare Grand Kru champions of this year’s NCSM.

Scene of the SKD stadium after spectators invaded the pitch

In addition to the actions taken, the organizers have suspended Nimba head coach Murta Fofana and his team manager Musa Kromah “from all sporting activities directly and or indirectly for two years 2021-2023,” and also fined Nimba County US$1,500, which “knowingly violated Article XVI section 16.5 and Article XIX Section 19.1, respectively, of the rules and regulations governing the tournament,” something the ministries described as a sad display of lack of sportsmanship.

Section19.1 of the rules states that, “Any county team that behaves rudely on the field of play and brings the match to a halt or disrepute, according to the match official’s report, shall be fined the amount of One Thousand Five Hundred United States Dollars (US$1,500.00),” while Section 16.5 of the rules states that, “Any county player, coach or official of a county obstructing, delaying or compelling a game to come to a halt shall be fined the amount of Two Hundred United States Dollars ($200.00) [and] Five Hundred United States Dollars ($500.00) for a second offence. The fine shall be paid before the county’s next scheduled match. Suspension for two years from National County Sports Meet.”

There have been several concerns following the ministry’s decision to suspend coach Fofana, who is also the head coach of second-division club BYC, from all football activities, when the rules of the county meet state only: “Suspension for two years from National County Sports Meet.” But, according to Min. Wilson, the decision was reached in consultation with the Liberia Football Association (LFA). There has been no official statement from the LFA up to press time.

The decisions, according to Minister Zeogar Wilson, who read the joint statement, will serve as a deterrent to others, as the intent of the tournament is to promote unity among Liberians.

The ministries further added that all awards of the tournament will be presented on Thursday, January 30, at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia as Grand Kru County will engage in a friendly encounter against players of the 1996/2002 national team of Liberia squad.



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