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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Over 30,000 Fans Storm Stadium

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Over 30,000 Fans Storm Stadium

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The premier league is happening outside of the control of the Sierra Leone Football Association, which is currently in disarray with two of its top executives on trial for corruption and a ban from FIFA. This, notwithstanding, Sierra Leoneans united to bring local football back for the fans. Local businesses and entrepreneurs put up the funds needed to get the league up, and the government put up 2 billion Leones ($230,000) to finance the season in the absence of FIFA.

The first match was between East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool and was broadcast on TV, radio, and online. Those fans, which could not be in the stadium or living in the Diaspora tuned in to AYV to watch or stream on its website, mobile app and Facebook.

The East End Lions took the lead in the first half with a goal from Alusine Koroma. Mighty Blackpool would go on to dominate with ball possession throughout the game, but their balls on target were minimal. Whether the FIFA ban holds or not everyone in Sierra Leoneans appears committed to making sure that the premier league continues to grow.

The league is a welcome respite from the political issues of the day. SLPP and APC politicians found themselves as fans supporting the same local teams. What makes football a beautiful game is less about what happens on the pitch but more about the bond it creates amongst people. The last complete season of the premier league was in 2013.

In that year the trophy went to Diamond Stars. After 2013 there was a split in the league with a majority of the teams boycotting the leadership of Isha Johansen. This season, all teams have returned to the premier league while SLFA president Isha Johansen and another are on trial for corruption.

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