Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson

‘National Embarrassment’ - Gov’t blames LFA For U-17 Disqualification, launches Investigation

The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, is not happy with how things started at the Liberia Football Association (LFA) with regards to the selection process of players for the National Under-17 team.

The process subsequently led the disqualification of the team at the West African Football Union Zone-A U-17 Championship in Mauritania.

Liberia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Dester Zeogar Wilson said the country’s local football house headed by Mr. Mustapha Raji must take the blame for the ‘national embarrassment’ brought upon the people of Liberia.

It can be recalled that Liberia was found guilty and disqualified from the ongoing WAFU Zone-A U-17 Championship in Mauritania, after two of the U-17 players failed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI, a mandatory test conducted to avoid age cheating at the U-17 level.

This means Liberia violated Article 27.4 of the tournament rules and regulations.

It says: “After performing the age eligibility test (MRI) for a participating team and one (1) player was found non-eligible, the participating team will be disqualified."

Speaking at a news conference held at the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) in Paynesville, outside Monrovia on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, Mr. Wilson asserted that the shame brought upon the country is totally unacceptable, and as such, people must be made to account for their wrongdoing at the LFA.

Mr. Wilson pointed out that the Liberia Football Association (LFA), being the sole manager of the national team, did not do due diligence in the verification of players’ ages during the selection process and such, this brought a total disgrace to the entire country.

However, Mr. Mustapha I. Raji, President of the LFA, said at a news conference earlier Monday that the local football house was deceived by the parents of those players.

Accordingly, in a bid to establish the actual cause of what went wrong in the selection process, the government’s lead sports official announced the launch of an investigation to be spearheaded by the Liberian National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and supported by the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL).

Headed by veteran Liberian journalist and diplomat, Mr. Philipbert Brown, LNOC is the umbrella organization for all sports federations and associations in Liberia.

“This has brought complete embarrassment to the country brought upon us. I mean it’s a national embarrassment and those responsible must be held accountable and this is why we are launching this investigation. Yesterday, The Liberia Football Association at its press conference fell flat to take responsibility for what happened. The FA also failed to announce the launch of an investigation and so as a government, we are going to do so,” said the MYS boss.

“MYS will launch an investigation to be led by the LNOC and two members of SWAL. We will get to the bottom of this through a transparent process. We need to put in place necessary safeguards to save the face of the country. All those held responsible shall be held accountable, because this is a complete embarrassment to the country,” he furthered though he fell short to state the ramification for those that would be held liable.

“Again, as I said the full blame falls on LFA and so the investigation is only meant to determine who dropped the ball. The LFA President Mr. Raji said the children presented National Identification Cards, but we feel that the LFA should have gone beyond that,” the Youth and Sports Minister added.

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