The Senate’s Committee on Youth and Sports has taken an exception to assertions by the Ministry of Youth and Sports that the National County Sports Meet (NSCM) is a ‘political tournament.’
Members of the Senate’s Committee on Youth and Sports separately voiced their discontents during cross-examinations of Sports Minister Zoegar Wilson, and Deputy Sports Minister Andy Quamie over their disapproving utterances in the Committee’s Public Hearing on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at the Capitol.
They deduced that recent decisions by the Ministries of Youth and Sports and Internal Affairs were very “political.”
The Members of the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports in the Wednesday public hearing were Senators Conmany Wesseh (River Gee), Matthew Jaye (Maryland), Gbleh-Bo Brown (Maryland), Peter Coleman (Grand Kru).
The public hearing was aimed at inquiring about the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ decisions to
suspend Nimba County head coach, Murta Fofana and team manager, Musa Kromah, from participating in the county meet directly or indirectly for two years (2021-2023), levy the fine of US$1,500 on Nimba County, and declare Grand Kru County the winner of the 2019/2020 National County Sports Meet.
Ministers Wilson and Quamie said their decision was in fulfillment of their rules 19.0 ARTICLE XIX, Section 19.1: VIOLENCE DURING GAMES (SEE 16.5), which states: “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).”
The Minister said the fine shall be paid before the county’s next game. If the match in question is the last match for the county being fined, deduction shall be made in the next allotment.
The Minister intoned that as it is a known fact that officials from Nimba County, led by Musa Kromah, team Manager, Coach Mouta Fofana, head coach, and other officials to be identified, incited and recalled players through verbal instructions to abandon the game was in violation of the rules governing the tournament.
The MYS officials argued that the actions of Musa, Mouta and other officials to be identified, led players of the Nimba County Football team, discontinuing the match and the subsequent invasion of the pitch by angry supporters, among others, is tantamount to their two years’ suspensions.
However, they stressed that amid their rules, the NCSM is still “political.”
The chairman of the Senate’s Sports and Youth Committee, Senator Conmany Wesseh, said over the years, many believed that County Meet was established to foster peace, reconciliation, and unity among Liberians and Liberia, but a statement emerging and labeling it as “political” was surprising.
After discussing with his colleagues, the Committee announced to submit findings of the investigation and recommendations.
While the Senate’s Youth and Sports investigation on the ruling by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the football final clash between Grand Kru and Nimba Counties was drawing to a close, the Nimba Steering Sports Committee released a stern statement regarding the Ministry’s decision.
The Nimba Steering Committee sarcastically appreciated the Ministry of Youth and Sports for “unprecedentedly selecting a Grand Kru County as the winner” for the football tournament of the NCSM and then congratulated Grand Kru County for their selection as well and expressed hope that Grand Kru County will be selected again in the future county meets.
The Steering Committee said the suspensions of their head coach and team manager are illegal because neither the Ministry of Youth and Sports nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs has such an authority to unilaterally suspend a coach on such frivolous claims.
The Steering Committee indicated that the $US1,500 fine levied against Nimba County is considered unclear, and the Minister also, with no respect for the people of Nimba going ahead to describe the sons and daughters of that county as ‘hooligans,’ was unacceptable.
The Committee argued that the players only left the pitch for fear of their lives after they saw the outpouring of angry supporters on the main pitch, something which was not put under control by the organizers of the tournament.
Moving forward, the County Sports Steering Committee recommends to the County Authority (Local Government and Nimba County Legislative Caucus) for the following actions to be affected:
“That Nimba withdraws from the County Sports Meet for the period five years and money allocated for such event be diverted to education, and that the county should reject paying a cent to the organizers of the County Sports Meet until the county is given due process.”
The other recommendations to the County Authority include: “That the county takes legal action against the organizers for suspending its coach and team manager without following regulation of the county sports meet; that the Minister of Youth and Sports within forty eight hours publicly apologizes for describing Nimibaians as “hooligans” or risk being prevented from entering Nimba; that the County focuses on investing more on its districts league that will unite Nimbaians; and that the County prevent all Liberia Football Association games from being played in Nimba until the LFA can come up with a definite position statement distancing itself from the suspension of our Coach and team Manager;