When undercover Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremayaw Anas filmed soccer referees accepting bribes in the course of their professional duties, our dear Jerry Yekeh, a man who has risen to his current unbeatable position by calculated drive and passion, was linked to the ugly act.
Throughout investigations conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), FIFA Referee Yekeh insisted on his innocence. Though CAF could not take his word for it, and this man suffered when he was provisionally suspended while investigations continued.
A humble man, the soft-spoken Knight of the Whistle held his faith in God and was convinced that he would come out with honor. He abided by the administrative decision and endured the suspension imposed by the Liberia Referees Committee (LiFRA). During the investigations, many referees across Africa suffered humiliation because they were found guilty and suffered various degrees of suspension and ban. Admittedly, the job of a referee’s handling a match abroad is a challenging one. At a time countries are showcasing their pride in their youths in sports, many football officials, even in this country, would let you know that it takes a man of Yekeh’s stature to refuse bribe to “at least overlook some calls on our side and give us a penalty.” How many of us in this day and age of economic challenges can uphold his integrity and refuse to accept “bribe” in the thousands, in order to have a clean slate in the end? And here I must congratulate Mr. Idrissa Kaba for letting Yekeh follow his footsteps. Kaba has always told emerging referees the importance of maintaining fair-play as an authority of a game. Thanks, Kaba.
Happily, true to his word, CAF did not find Jerry Yekeh guilty of any wrongdoing. In clear terms, Jerry Yekeh, CAF found out, was not involved in taking bribes and, therefore, has been encouraged to continue his vocation, which he has long followed with passion.
Though he suffered for others’ indignities, friends say the fact that he was not found guilty is good news, not only for Jeremiah Yekeh but for his country and those who believe in him. His pride as a Liberian is high and many of his colleagues and those who care about him have called on him to fly on wings of a dove, with the stars being his limit.
And I think the Liberia Football Association should honor Mr. Jerry Yekeh for not disgracing the country abroad. In a country in which peace officers and others publicly “demand for cold water” without shame, Yekeh is a great son of this nation and deserves to be honored in public. Raji, I am sure you are reading this as well as officials of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL).
Yekeh started his career in 2002 and has won several awards from the Liberia Football Association. Some of the honors include the Most Prominent Referee Award (2007-2008) and the Best Referee Award (2009, 2011, and 2012.) He became an International FIFA Referee in 2009, to handle regional and youth international competitions.
Yekeh deserves his flowers!