The International Coordinator of the Liberia Amputee Football & Sports Association, (LAFASA), Mr. Duannah Siryon has told Youth & Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe that the misleading behavior showed by LAFASA leadership has undermined Liberia’s reputation in the United States.
In a letter to Minister Nagbe, copied to several government officials, along with Mr. Richard Hoffman, president of the World Amputee Federation and US Ambassador Deborah Malac, Siryon urged Minister Nagbe in the interest of Liberia to encourage the team to return home and to have any remaining issues resolved as a matter of Liberia’s internal affairs.
A Youth & Sports source told the Daily Observer that Minister Nagbe is in possession of the letter and considering further steps that may bring the situation under control.
Mr. Siryon is a resident of Minnesota and was instrumental for Amputee Lone Star to receive an invitation to have played three-nation friendly tournament in Maryland, USA.
The following is the content of his letter, a copy of which was also sent to the Daily Observer:
“I am writing today from the perspective of the American Amputee Soccer Association and of the World Amputee Football Federation. Both organizations are concerned about the ongoing situation with the Liberian Amputee Football team now in the United States.
“In the spring of this year the American Amputee Soccer Association proposed a four-nation tournament to be held on August 8-9, 2015. As the date approached, two teams informed us they would not be able to attend as scheduled.
“On 23 July, with great disappointment, the American Amputee Soccer Association informed Mr. Samuel Eastman, Secretary General of the Liberia Amputee Football Federation that the tournament had to be cancelled. We have an email dated July 28 in which Mr. Eastman acknowledged the cancellation.
“We now know that Mr. Eastman did not inform the Liberian government of that cancellation and proceeded with plans to come to the United States. He apparently did so, on his own initiative – not through any invitation or agreement with me or with the American Amputee Soccer Association.
“We were offended to learn Mr. Eastman claimed he only learned of the tournament’s cancellation after the team arrived in the United States; but gratified that he has publically acknowledged that he was fully aware there was no tournament, and that his motives for coming to the United States were motivated by other objectives.
“In any event, with the official cancellation of the tournament, and with Mr. Eastman’s documentable acknowledgement of the cancellation, the American Amputee Soccer Association had no further involvement with the team or its travel plans, and bear no responsibility for hosting the delegation or for its food, lodging or local transportation while here.
No Official Sanction
“Mr. Eastman also approached the World Amputee Football Federation hoping to obtain an official sanction for a match between Liberia and Ghana on US soil, since both teams were planning to be here in the second week of September.
“We understand Mr. Eastman and his team wanted that endorsement to help fund raising efforts. But given the circumstances surrounding the team’s presence here, the world governing board would not approve the match.
“Therefore the American Amputee Soccer Association and the amputee football world governing body agree that regarding our organization there is no sporting or competitive reason for the Liberian Amputee Football team to be in or to remain in the United States.
“We further agreed that the actions of the Liberian team’s leadership are contrary to our understanding of good citizenship and of good sportsmanship.
“The actions of the Liberian Team’s leadership have damaged our sport’s reputation and have had a chilling effect on how other nations look at the prospect of competition with Liberia. This situation could also affect Liberia’s potential invitation to the World Cup.
“We also agreed it would be in the best interest of the team and in the best interest of the sport in general for the Liberian Amputee Football team to return home and to have any remaining issues resolved as a matter of Liberia’s internal affairs rather than on the world stage..
“If you have any questions or wish any further details, please contact me. We will be happy to cooperate with you office.”
Reports said the team did not arrange for accommodation and the players are presently being helped by a Liberian woman who resides in Maryland.
However, LAFASA president Melvin Gotten told the Daily Observer in a recent interview that the team would be returning to Liberia in December, but he admitted that several of them have moved to live families in different states, except about eight players who don’t have families to accommodate them and were rescued by a Liberian humanitarian.
“Their situation is pathetic and someone must be done to get them back home,” a resident of Maryland told the Daily Observer in an interview.