Liberia Football Association (LFA) president Mustapha Raji has urged referees to implement the laws of the game without fear or favor. Mr. Raji made the call when the LFA formally commissioned eight referees that were approved by the world football governing body, FIFA, to officiate in international competitions in 2019.
According to a release from the LFA, Mr. Raji encouraged the referees to learn from the professional stewardship of newly appointed Secretary General of the LFA Isaac Montgomery. Montgomery, who should have also been commissioned, resigned following his appointment as LFA secretary-general in December.
“Today our general secretary comes from the referee community. He was not my close friend. We never ever moved together,” Raji told the gathering on January 12. “But the decision I made to hire him was based on the principles he set on the football field in the last 10 years that I saw him officiate.”
He added: “My decision was based on the professional ability that he showed and exhibited and it was based on sincerity and integrity for the game that he exhibited on the field.
“And I believe most of you have the same qualities or have even more. And there are others that are looking at you, that can give you the opportunity not only in the football sector but in other sectors in government or company to work.”
During the ceremony, the eight referees received their 2019 FIFA badges. Those commissioned included center referees Jerry S. Yekeh, George Rogers, Jr., Hassan Corneh and Slyvina Garnett, the only female in Liberia, who is making her debut on the international scene.
Assistant referees included Johnson Gbartea, Abraham B. Fahnbulleh, Sekou S. Kanneh, and Joel W. Doe, who is also making his debut.
“You people are one of the most professional groups I have interacted with in football, so I, therefore, urge you to maintain your stance despite criticisms from the public and the media,” Raji said.
He also praised executive committee member Joseph Kollie, who is also president of the Liberia Football Referees Association (LIFRA), for always standing behind his members.
Speaking earlier, Cllr. Kollie reminded the referees that they have signed a formal contract with football’s world governing body, Fifa, to protect and uphold the integrity of the game.
He said the allegation leveled against Yekeh would have set the stage for Liberian referees to be globally categorized.
“When one of your colleagues (Jerry Yekeh) was accused, that would have determined who you are today. And indeed, Yekeh was exonerated. To have it on BBC that a Liberian referee had been exonerated is a very good pride for you. You must hold that pride and you must keep it up. You are making more money and you have to work for it,” Kollie said.