Nimba Threatens Sanction Against Minister Wilson – Sport C’ttee Recommends Withdrawal from County Meet

In the wake of a US$1500 fine slapped on Nimba County for walking out of the field in the final match of the 2019/2020 County Meet, the Nimba Sports Steering Committee has made a six-count recommendation to the county proposing amongst other things the withdrawal of the County from the national County Meet Tournament for five years, saying money intended for the competition should instead be directed towards education.

The County also threatened sanction against the Minister of Youth & Sports, Zoegar Wilson for demeaning comments against the team of the County, demanding that the Liberia Football Association issues a statement distancing itself from the position of the Ministry of Youth & Sports.

The Nimba Sports Steering Committee also recommended that the county should reject paying a cent to the organizers of the County Sports Meet until the county is given due process; and added that the county takes legal action against the organizers for suspending its coach and team manager without following regulation of the county sports meet.

In a Press Statement issued yesterday, the Nimba Sports Steering Committee further recommended that the Minister of Youth and Sports should, within forty-eight hours, publicly apologize to the county for describing Nimbaians as “hooligans” or risk being prevented from entering Nimba; adding that the County focuses on investing more on its districts league that will unite peoples of the county than participating in the National County Meet Tournament.

The statement by the Nimba Sports Steering Committee comes in the wake of punitive measure announced against the county’s soccer team for walking out of the sport pitch at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex for dissatisfaction during the final match between Nimba and Grand Kru County.  Nimba walked out of the field on a disputed penalty kick at awarded Grad Kru which was already in the lead with one goal, a time a team member was already red carded.

Nimba Sports Steering Committee said its attention is drawn to a Tuesday, January 28 press conference by the Ministries of Youth and Sports and Internal Affairs in which they levied weighty, unsubstantiated accusations against our sports committee and the people of Nimba County.

“During the press conference, the Minister of Youth and Sports announced illegally, the suspension of both our team coach and manager for two years each from all sporting activities though, neither the Ministry of Youth and Sports nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs have no such authority to unilaterally suspend a coach on such frivolous claims,” the Nimba Sports Steering Committee said.

The Committee indicated that the Ministry also fined Nimba County a sum of $1,500 USD for reasons that are yet to be made clear, adding that the Minister also with no respect for the people of Nimba when ahead to describe sons and daughters of our county who were entrusted with the County Steering Committee as hooligans, a description we strongly reject.

“It is unfortunate that the organizers of the County Sports Meet will decide to vilify our athletes who performed to the best of their abilities in the National County Sports Meet,” the Nimba Sports Committee asserted, noting that many of the players in the County Sport Meet are not full bright professionals and may not even understand the full rules of the game as such, maturity requires that you treat them at different lenses.

Moreover, the players declined continuation of the game and departed the playing pitch in the grand final 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, the committee said.

Nimba Blames walk out on Organizers

The Nimba Sports Committee expressed belief that the organizers of the National County Sports Meet contributed to the disruption of the final especially, when they failed to pick their very best to referee the crucial match; and that County Meet is not a normal FIFA approved game which is played to the full weight of the laws of the game.

The Organizers (Ministries of Youth & Sports and Internal Affairs) didn’t take in consideration the fact that the tournament comes with political relevance, national relevance, tribal supremacy and regional dominance and not an ordinary community game.

Besides, the Steering Committee said it did not contribute to the players leaving the field as alleged by the organizers, stating that most officials of the County and Steering Committee members were seated at VIP and around VIP with no easy access to the pitch to immediately get the situation under control as the field itself was jammed packed to capacity.

“The coach was even shocked to see the wave of supporters trooping into the playing pitch from the stadium after the referee declared an unfair second penalty,” the Nimba Sports Steering Committee accentuated, stressing that there was no security measure put into place to curtail the over crowdedness of the field. The Police and other state securities were more focus on watching the action then putting it under control.

“We must confront the organizers for poorly managing the safety of our players and technical staff as well as the game. In parts of Africa, around the pitch is meant for Journalists and Security but ours was a designated space for concubines, officials of government, friends of our friends and superintendents for mere showmanship” the Nimba Sports Steering Committee observed.

The Committee said if the organizers had controlled the parameters, leaders from Nimba would have had the opportunity to remedy the situation before it escalated, attributing the situation to how poorly the stadium was managed.

Nimba Boycott of LFA imminent

Calling on every Nimbaian to boycott all sports activities organize by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in every part of the country to avoid being describe as “hooligans,” the Nimba Sports Steering Committee also recommended that the county prevent all Liberia Football Association games from playing in Nimba until the LFA can come up with a definite position statement distancing itself from the suspension of the Coach and team Manager for the Nimba County soccer team.

For Nimba, making Grand Kru the winner of the tournament is a selection and not a merit. “We appreciate the Ministry of Youth and Sports for unprecedentedly selecting a county (Grand Kru) as winner for the football tournament of the National County Sports Meet,” We congratulate Grand Kru County for their selection as well and hope that the county will be selected again in future county meets,” Nimba Sports Steering Committee said.

Calling on those who intend to score political points from the just ended disruption of the County Meet final to desist as their action is not in the best interest of our county and its people, the committee said without even ascertaining the facts that led to the players’ walkout, the Ministry issued a verdict after it refused to launch an investigation or call the Steering Committee for hearing. The Organizers didn’t give Nimba County due process. “Due process of law is not a privilege but a right that should be generally respected,” the Nimba Sports Committee warned.

Breach of Regulation

“Furthermore, we state that the organizers’ suspension the coach of Nimba County is a decision which runs contrary from the County’s Meet regulation LE XIX 19.1 section 16.5 which states that ‘any county player, coach or official of a county obstructing, delaying or compelling a game to come to a halt shall be fined the amount of Two Hundred United States Dollars for first offense and Five Hundred United States Dollars for second offense,’” the Nimba County Committee added.

The committee said “Ignorantly, the organizers took the action without going through the regulation properly,
saying, “The organizers also suspended our two team executives from all coaching activities after a question was asked by a Journalist.

“We want to say that our coach and manager have every right to participate in the Liberia Football Association League. The Organizer of the County Meet has absolutely no right or authority to suspend them from LFA league on grounds that the LFA league is not under the jurisdiction of MYS but the world governing body of football, FIFA,” the4 committed asserted in their strong worded statement.

The Committee called on the Liberia Football Association to officially make a statement on the suspension of the Nimba coach and team manager on grounds that the Minister of Youth and Sports said the Ministry’s decision to suspend the two Nimba sports officials was done in consultation with the Liberia Football Association.

“The Grand Kru supporters throw missiles at our players from the pitch to the tunnel. The biased judgment based on emotion sentiments by the organizers of the County’s meet must be immediately reversed. This is not the first time for referee hired by the Ministry of Youth and Sports to poorly manage a game against Nimba, thereby resulting to protestation by our players,” the Committee lamented.

During last year quarters final of the National County Sports Meet, during the Nimba and Margibi game, after the full ninety minutes of played, the referee refused to call for an extra thirty minute which is a globally accepted principle, the Committee recalled, believing that the organizers undermined the real essence of the County Meet and as such they should accept every action and inaction that occurred during the grand finale.

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