Fighting Back: Bility Surrenders Fate to CAS

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Liberia Football Association president Musa Hassan Bility has said that he has surrendered his fate, following his recent FIFA Election Adhoc Committee rejection of his FIFA presidential bid, to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

The submission was done last Monday morning, Mr. Bility told a press conference yesterday in Monrovia.

“I recognize fully the global size and capacities of the organization against whose decision to deny me I am appealing,” he said, “I do not do this light-heartedly. Actually, I do so with a heavy heart – one, like so many hearts around the world, which is filled with love and care about the future of football, and only seeks the best for the organization that has given so much to so many.”

Admitting that he sees in FIFA the potential to become a more inclusive organization and a powerful instrument not only for promoting football but for catalyzing development, he said FIFA’s vision inspires dreams and promotes peace in national, regional and global communities.

“The shoddy intrusion on my integrity has not blurred this vision. I will continue to advocate and work to realize a reformed FIFA aware that no change or advocacy comes without a price,” Bility in a tone of defiance, said though there was no applause in a gathering of only sports journalists. He did not take questions, afterward.

He said, “Like everyone else, my only prized possession is my integrity, which I believe has been carelessly impugned upon, in an effort to deny me from the pursuit of this vision. Hence, the actions we have taken and others, based on legal counsel, which I intend to take will be dutifully communicated to the public by various members of my growing team of volunteers for which I am most grateful.”

He admitted that “on November 12, through its Ad-Hoc Elections Committee, FIFA informed me of its decision to not admit me as a candidate in the ensuing FIFA Presidential Election. This decision is said to be based on an “investigative report on integrity” by the Investigatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee of FIFA.”

He described the decision against him to be unfair, “troubling and disappointing. As such, I have appealed the same to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) urging that body to act with urgency in the disposition of this matter, in righting an obvious wrong against me, and in granting me general and pecific reliefs to which they believe me to be justly entitled.”

In an exciting tone, Bility said, “I am pleased that my notice of appeal has been found to be legally and procedurally sufficient so much so that it has been duly processed by the court, and that FIFA has been regularly informed. Within the statutory period required, I will perfect the appeal through detailed submissions to the Court. Let there be no mistake of my desire to right this obvious wrong.”

“When I embarked upon this most improbable of journeys, admittedly the only outsider to the inner chambers of FIFA, I understood the enormity of the task at hand – the personal and financial costs to be borne, the growing call for reforms, and the need to make our global organization more inclusive. I believe myself to be prepared for these challenges,” Bility said.

In a philosophical tone, he noted, “Indeed, change is hard. But change we must, not only for ourselves, but for all who love the beautiful game of football, and all the possibilities it affords countries that are both big and small, as well as people who are both rich and poor. This game has brought all together in ways never imagined before.”

Like in many parts of the world, he said, “Liberians understand the joy and possibilities of football. We have seen one of our own rising from lowly obscurity on our less than favorable playing pitches to global renown at the pinnacle of the game.”

Providing one of the reasons he elected for the position, Bility said, “It is for experiences like these and many more – for the unlimited possibilities, spirit of unity and unspeakable joy that football inspires – which I believe to be threatened – that I announced my candidacy.”

Bility said the history of the world is replete with grander tales of personal sacrifices, including “punishments,” in the advocacy for change.

This is why, he said, “I find it mind-boggling that an ethics probe would admittedly be based on information from “tabloid-like” sources which are internationally unacceptable because it obviously lacks credibility.”

On one of the issues used against his candidacy, he noted, “With regards to the CAF suspension, I have repeatedly indicated that I will always stand up for what is right. At the time, I discovered and spoke against issues associated with the governance of CAF, which in my considered judgment, was not in the best interests of the development of African football. CAF suspended me for six months. I lodged an appeal, but in the spirit of fraternity was urged to withdraw it for an amicable solution.”

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