PtG Article 12.04.2007

Liberian football vice president calls his own organisation corrupt

A vice president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) insists that it is necessary to carry out an audit of the entire administration of the LFA to determine what has happened to annual FIFA grants of 250,000 US dollars. Adolph Lawrence believes that much of the money has never reached the intended recipients.

Lawrence has pushed the issue of corruption since he joined the LFA Executive last year. However, during the last month Lawrence has stepped up the pressure on the LFA by voicing his accusations through interviews with radio stations and newspapers such as Monrovia-based The Inquirer.

According to Lawrence, percentages of the FIFA grants are allotted to specific purposes such as youth football, the senior national team and the women’s team. Youth football for instance should get 9 per cent of the annual 250,000 US dollar grant but when the youth committee in 2006 asked the FA for 10,000 US dollars to keep the national under-17 and under-15 teams practicing three times a week, the committee was turned down. The president, Izetta Wesley, said that it was the government’s responsibility to train players.

Similar arguments were used to withhold the 17 percent and the 2 per cent of the FIFA grant set aside for the senior national team and the women’s team respectively.

“All the FA does is to rely on the government to sponsor the various teams and what is done with the money is unaccountable,” Lawrence told The Inquirer.

Lawrence also accuses the leadership of the LFA of taking money from the FIFA grant to cover the daily subsistence allowance that delegates are due for taking part in FIFA and CAF conferences. The problem is that FIFA and CAF already pay delegates directly at the conference.

“At the end of the recent CAF conference in Ethiopia, the delegation withdrew up to 7,000 US Dollars to cover the daily subsistence allowances and refuse to say what happened to the money it received from the congress,” Lawrence said to The Inquirer.

Lawrence has also said that it is difficult to see results of funds set aside for event management, planning and infrastructure.

Football clubs also want to know how FIFA money is spent

Presidents of football clubs in Liberia have joined Lawrence in his request for an explanation of how the grant from FIFA is spent. A first division champion President, Patrick Garwuo, told the Liberian Broadcasting System that they have not benefited from the FIFA grant and don’t know exactly how the money is being spent by the LFA authority.

Garwuo said it is time that the LFA take the necessary corrective measures and respect local football clubs as major stakeholders in the game. If that did not happen, he threatened to inform FIFA about the problems as well as refuse to participate in up-coming league matches. 

President does not want to comment over the phone

Liberian journalists have tried to contact the president of the LFA, Izetta Wesley, for comments on Lawrence’s accusations but she told The Inquirer that the accusations were too delicate to discuss on the phone. She would comment later but so far has not.

According to the website, the Vice President for Administration of the Liberia Football Association, Pennoh Bestman, says that the group is using money from the FIFA Grant transparently.

He said the FIFA Financial Assistance Program was helping the LFA in meeting some of its needs. However, the money was not enough to run football in a country like Liberia graduating from years of war.

Bestman said the football house pays it dues to CAF, WAFU and other bodies out of the same grant and that money allocated for the women’s and youth programmes were used to fund the Under-20 Female National Team participation in the recent qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup.

FIFA has made no comments on the problems in the LFA. Instead, the world governing body for football has released a second portion of Goal Development money for Liberia. The money will be spent on developing the Nancy Doe Stadium in Katak so it can hold about ten thousand spectators. The first FIFA Goal Project was the refurbishment of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.