"Sierra Leone players in action against team Melli"

Iran/Sierra Leone friendly under Match-fixing scrutiny

Recognised Sierra Leone’s FA president, Isha Johansen, has written to World football governing body, Fifa to request an investigation into Iran and Sierra Leone international friendly.

The World-Cup bound side proved too strong when they dismantled a Sierra Leone side largely dominated by local stars 4-0 Saturday, March 17 in an international friendly at the Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

A brace for Ali Gholizadeh and a goal apiece for Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh and Kaveh Rezaei helped the host to outclass their struggling visitors.

The match was planned by the present SLFA executive under the acting head, Brima Mazola Kamara (though not recognised by FIFA).

“I’d like to suggest the Match-Fixing Enquiry Committee looks into [how] this friendly was agreed upon and conducted by the SLFA,” Johansen wrote to Fifa.

“I was impersonated in this arrangement,” Kamara told BBC Sport in a statement. He says he did not initially see the correspondence.

The FFIRI, which funded Sierra Leone’s flights and accommodation, says it would have cancelled the friendly had it known of its alleged true nature. However, once the players had landed in Iran, the FFIRI felt there was little option but to play the game, BBC reported.

“Cancelling the match will definitely lead to an immense financial loss for our federation, not to mention that all preparations plans will be disrupted ahead of the World Cup,” FFIRI president Mehdi Taj wrote to Johansen two days before the friendly.

The latter says she allowed the game to go ahead in order to preserve “long-term future relations” with Iran but she has had serious reservations since.

“I am gravely concerned by recent events,” added Johansen in her letter, which was copied to Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura.

“My fear is that activities may have already taken place unknowingly to me for which I may one day [have] to account for.”

Sierra Leone football is presently facing an investigation into match-fixing, over a World Cup qualifier between Sierra Leone and South Africa in June 2008, which ended goalless.

Johansen, who is also under investigation, now wants the Iran game to be added to the matches being investigated by this Match Fixing Enquiry Committee.

It could be recalled that on October 2017, Isha Johansen and Kamara were both ordered by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to step aside following charges of abuse of office and pilfering of public funds. The matter is ongoing.

In spite of the above, Fifa says they recognize the Johansen leadership until Integrity checks and elections are conducted.

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