Minister of Sports, Madam Augusta James-Teima, and the Executive Director of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Dr. Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq convened a critical meeting with the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) on Tuesday, 7th May 2024, to address the alarming football violence that marred the FA Cup finals between East End Lions and Bo Rangers Football Clubs at the Port Loko Playing Field on Saturday, 4th May 2024.

Acting upon Minister James-Teima’s directives, the NSA dispatched a letter to the SLFA expressing grave concerns regarding security arrangements, match officiating, venue selection, the presence of weapons, and political divisions within the SLFA.

During the meeting, Minister James-Teima reiterated the government’s staunch stance against violence in sports, particularly in high-profile events like the FA Cup finals. Dr. Abdulai underscored the security apprehensions raised by national security agencies and reaffirmed the government’s resolve to eradicate such unsportsmanlike conduct. He stressed the government’s reluctance to endorse sports events tainted by violence, which jeopardizes national security.

SLFA Vice President One Harold Nat-Johnson responded to the raised issues, stating that match officiating falls under the Referees Committee’s jurisdiction and assured swift action to address allegations of poor officiating. He clarified that the decision to host the finals in Port Loko was made prior to the FA Cup draw on 7th January 2024. Despite acknowledging the imperfections of football pitches, Nat-Johnson urged fans to abstain from resorting to violence under any circumstance.

Addressing societal concerns, the SLFA revealed their outreach to the Sierra Leone Police for assistance, with assurances of adequate security measures. After extensive deliberations, both parties agreed that the SLFA would internally investigate the incident and present a report to the government within 72 hours, outlining proposed measures to rectify the situation.

Minister James-Teima emphasized that government funding for future FA Cup events hinges on ensuring a secured and impartially officiated tournament. The ultimate goal is to uphold fairness, safety, and the essence of sportsmanship in all future matches.

The meeting concluded with a shared commitment to fostering a conducive environment for football to thrive, free from violence and political interference. Both government and SLFA officials reiterated their dedication to restoring the integrity of Sierra Leonean football and ensuring that such incidents do not recur in the future.