While it remains a glaring fact that football administration in Liberia requires people who have the passion to transform the game both on and off the pitch, it must be clear that few of the individuals who are contending for re-election at the local football house have proven to cause more harm to the growth of the game, than was ever expected.
One of those individuals, according to research is District # 15 Representative, Adolph Lawrence, the only candidate who has been at the center of every controversy at the Liberia Football Association (LFA) since his ascendency to the second vice president position.
In December, 2006, former LFA Boss, Cllr. Sombo Izetta Wesley accused Adolph Lawrence of fermenting the bad blood between LFA and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
She said, “He cannot be at the LFA and create problems we have with the Sports Ministry. We welcome the new administration and said we were finished with the past but he goes there and says otherwise.”
Madam Wesley made the comments when she met with stakeholders of the LFA, including heads of clubs, sub-committees and associations, at the United Methodist Church Banquet Hall on Ashmun Street, where she responded to allegations made in her absence by Mr. Lawrence on October 28, 2006.
Mr. Lawrence raised issues such as the statutes of the LFA not being adhered to; alleged financial malpractice; functions of executives or officials; the LFA-Ministry of Youth and Sports relationship; Ditiro Media Management and Communication Contract; and FIFA Financial Assistance to the LFA.
Contrary to Mr. Lawrence’s claims that the statutes were not being adhered to, Cllr. Wesley mentioned that the laws were being adhered to because she was not a novice at the LFA, having served over the years as Vice President for Administration.
“I know the statutes well and will always adhere to it,” she told the group of LFA stakeholders. According to Cllr. Wesley, this was the first time that she was being accused of financial malpractices in all of the organizations she had served.
Relative to the FIFA grant, the female President of the LFA pointed out that there are committees responsible for youth and women football that are supposed to do their works. Cllr. Wesley said she was not supposed to do what the committees ought to do. About the contract with Ditiro, the LFA President admitted to receiving equipment for the national women football team as well as jerseys and boots that were submitted to the Sports Ministry.
In August 2006, the boardroom of the Liberia Football Association nearly became a boxing ring during an executive meeting of the association on Tuesday.
Our reporter who stood close to the boardroom said there were heated exchanges between the two vice presidents of the LFA that almost resulted into a fistfight. The Executive Committee of the football association was to decide a new secretary general of the group when the commotion started. Again, Adolph led a group of executive committee members who were opposing the nomination of any candidate sent forward by Cllr.Izetta Wesley.
Mr. Lawrence was reported to have accused the Vice President for Administration, Pennoh Bestman, of what he termed “betraying the cause’. That was the fourth time executives of the football body have failed to name a secretary general following the dismissal of Yanqueh Borsay.
Former Millennium Star president, John Rufus Ballah, was the man leading the pack for the secretary general post.
Few weeks after, Executive Committee Members of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) met to decide the appointment of a new Secretary-General, but it was revealed that the nominee, John Rufus Ballah would be rejected.
During that time, the head of the Division Two Side, Diamond FC, Ebenezer Barclay claimed: “Adolph Lawrence stated in a gathering of First Division clubs on Monday, August 7, 2006 that Ballah will be rejected on the basis that he helped to prepare the financial report presented to Congress in Kakata, which he said Congress had problem with.”
Barclay added, “He also mentioned that Cllr. (Izetta) Wesley is contemplating on nominating Jeremy Russell if Ballah is rejected.” He then expressed concern over the way out for the LFA when there are issues to be looked at for the development of the game.
The Diamond FC President reminded Mr. Lawrence, that he overwhelmingly got the support of Congress by receiving 53 votes out of 88 votes and therefore urged the LFA Vice President for Operations to work for the improvement of the game instead of wasting time on the issue of Secretary-General.
“He should now disembark from his plans of undermining the leadership that he is part of and concentrate on how he will get Careca to Liberia to construct soccer academies and improve the Media and Marketing Committee to get sponsors for our league.” Barclay stated further that there are promises Lawrence made to the clubs during the latter’s campaign speeches.
In November 2006, Mr. Lawrence admitted that the game was facing a number of problems in the country. He identified disunity in the football house as one of the factors responsible for the downward trend of the game. Mr. Lawrence also cited lack of accountability and coordination among the top three football officials of which he was a part. He said they were all responsible for the negative publicity the LFA was receiving.
In March, 2007, Adolph again was on record for accusing the LFA leadership of corruption. The troublesome football executive said because he wanted to stand firm against some of those ills, he was being referred to as a trouble maker, when in fact he was already a trouble maker.
In June of 2007, the former president of LFA, Edwin Melvin Snowe blamed former Deputy Sports Minister, Marbu Richards, LFA’s Vice President for Operations, Mr. Adolph Lawrence and the former Head Coach of the National team, Frank Jericho Nagbe, for the team’s failure to reach the Ghana 2008 Nations Cup finals. The former Speaker of the House of Representative also emphatically blamed Lawrence for interfering with the technical decision of the team; something he said influenced the coach in the selection of players for the game. Lawrence was described as an impediment to the growth of football development in the country.
In the same 2007, Lawrence started building anti-Wesley empire with territories set up in a number of football-related areas. At the Ministry of Youth and Sports, he had a strong relationship with the Deputy Minister for Sports, Marbue Richards and the Assistant Minister for Administration. The LFA Sub-Committees too were divided with Lawrence having strongholds in Logan Town, Gardnersville, Sinkor and Central Monrovia. Even the referees had a part to play as far as the territorial establishment of Lawrence was concerned. On the club front, Watanga FC, LISCR FC, Devereux, Roots and Mighty Electrons were among teams that often succumbed to Mr. Lawrence.
Rep. Lawrence also embarrassed the country in 2007 when he led his usual ‘Big Eight’ to inform both CAF and FIFA about the removal of the LFA Secretary-General. Coincidently, the representative of Academicals on the LFA Executive Committee, Joseph F. Willie, once a supporter of the LFA President, signed the document for reasons he has yet to state. Clubs from the top three divisions were annoyed by the move and, hence, decided to withdraw all of their representatives that affixed their signatures to the document. Those affected were Caulcrick, Raji, Kabia, Wilson and Glaybo at a time their head (Lawrence) was in Europe. Although the clubs applied the usual method in removing an Executive Committee member, the move was thwarted after Lawrence returned and immediately declared the removal of his disciples as unacceptable. A day later, Lawrence disrupted an Executive Committee meeting by leading a group of police into the LFA Board Room and told them that he was the head of the LFA all because his cronies were barred from the occasion. But Cllr. Wesley retaliated by bringing in another batch of police to calm the situation. D Webster Cassell writes