President George Manneh Weah has expressed disappointment over the attack on players of the Liberian National Team, Lone Star, in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, on Saturday, 7 September 2019.
He recalled a similar attack on the Lone Star in Brazzaville when he was Technical Director of the team. “It’s sad when what’s supposed to be the most beautiful and unifying game turns into violence, thus causing supporters to attack players in this 21st century,” President Weah said on Sunday, 8 September 2019, in a social media post.
“As former Technical Director of the Lone Star, I witnessed a similar incident in Congo, Brazzaville; where we were stoned out of the training ground. This incident compelled us to train at our hotel between the trees, but such intimidation did not stop us from defeating the host 1-0 to qualify for the African Cup of Nations,” said the one-time World Best Footballer.
The Liberian leader encouraged players of the Lone Star to be prepared, calm and focused, and not allow anything to stop them from making history. “The Lone Star forever! O long may it float o’er land and o’er sea. Victory!” he indicated.
On Saturday, a group of stone-throwing youths descended on the Siaka Stevens Sports Stadium in Freetown where the Liberian National Team (Lone Star) was about to hold a practice session before their FIFA qualifier match on Sunday, 8 September 2019, disrupting the planned training.
The Sierra Leone Football Association has, however, distanced itself from the incident and assured the team’s safety.
The Liberian government has contacted the appropriate Sierra Leonean officials, and also filed a formal complaint to the football world governing body, FIFA.
“The government of Liberia is aware of the disturbing attack on our national team in Sierra Leone and is therefore working through various channels to ensure the safety of the players and other members of the Liberian delegation. The team is currently securely sheltered at their hotel in Freetown as we assess the situation,” the Liberian Government said in a statement on Saturday.
The Liberian National Team went to Freetown for the second leg of their 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, after winning the first leg 3-1 in Monrovia on 4 September 2019.