Brima “Mazzola” Kamara - The Thrill is not gone

Foreground : Brima "Mazzola" Kamara , Sierra Leone F.A VicePresident. Photo/I.T

I will not let anyone tarnish my reputation

No matter what one stands for in Africa, running for elected office is certain to bring about mudslinging, “bloodbaths “ and character assassination.

Sports, particularly football is not exempt from the envy of individuals who have nothing to do with the game, if not for mingling into the business of those who have sacrificed their whole lives to fly high the flag of their nation.

And so, the new paradigm in managing African football is the normalisation committee sweeping the continent because federations and associations are showing fragilities in their functioning and repeated crises often due to poor governance and/or electoral procedures that do not comply with the requirements of their own rules and procedures.

In August 2017, FECAFOOT of Cameroon had an election cancelled for a normalisation Committee. In December of the same year, it was the turn of Mali. The following year, the Ghana GFA let its fortunes be fixed by FIFA. In November 2018, it was Madagascar, then Egypt in 2019 . Ivory Coast is being audited by the same committee because former Chelsea Legend Didier Drogba was being “manhandled” for daring to think about running for the presidency of that federation. The list is a mile long...

On the eve of the election for the Sierra Leone football federation, facts are suddenly brought forward against none other than the African football legend, Brima “Mazzola” Kamara, by a board of ethics. Thus, crumbling his chances of even running after brilliant services rendered to his country, not only across the continent during his career, but has standing in when current president Mrs Johansen was suspended for alleged corruption and a litany of other charges.

When we recently heard of the upcoming election and an ethics committee set in motion to disqualify certain candidates, our reporters went on the hunt for “Mazzola” to get to the bottom of what could be another turbulent season for the beautiful game in this era of the coronavirus pandemic, and pave the way for a FIFA normalisation committee.

Ivory Coast Tribune: Mr “Mazzola”, could you shed a light on what started as rumours, but have since been confirmed by yourself in a series of recent interviews?

Brima “Mazzola” Kamara: thank you for allowing me to clear my name. I have resorted to undo what has turned out to be an assassination of my character by the ethics board of our football federation.They have decided to exclude me from the process, allegedly after a probity and integrity test. It is an unfair decision without any merit, which lacks evidence that they promised to provide in due course. 

The election is supposed to be held mid-May, in about 10 days. They have still not provided the proof of their claims against me, so I am confident that I will run and win this election. One candidate (Mr Rodney) has already gone to CAS (The Court of Arbitration for sports) to appeal his case. I don’t have the type of money to do so because it does cost a lot. Therefore, I am counting on the good faith of my countrymen to give me back my good name and send me into that office for the advancement of the beautiful game.

 Our country does not need clientelism and shady deals at the highest level. What we need is experience, qualification and the will to serve the game, not oneself.

 Ivory Coast Tribune: What are the charges against you?

 “Mazzola”: There is a process of probity and integrity test that each candidate running for the Sierra Leone football association must pass with the ethics board. Along with other candidates, I went thru the process. To my astonishment, I was declared ineligible to run for president. After sending a press release, they still haven’t produced any reason why I and others were disqualified. Keep in mind, the election is 14 and 15 of May this year.

My assumption and presumption are that a game is being played by Madame President Isha Johansen and the ethics board. 

She is not happy because when she was suspended for corruption and other charges of which she was then found not guilty, I took over according to article 38 of the constitution. It is not my doing if I took over back then. We could not leave any vacuum in the day to day running of our football. It is the case in any leadership. This is exactly the reason why there is a president and a vice president. To me, the current ethics process is flawed. 

Mrs Johansen is a dictator. I think we deserve better. The former football star Mohamed Kalon was disqualified in the preliminary stages. No former footballer will be featuring in this election if I am out. I vow not to let this happen. I want the whole world to know what is going on in Sierra Leone. I want to continue to serve my country. For 7 to 8 years we have been at the helm by default because of these types of situations whereby, certain people think they have to use “cartel” type mechanisms to eject others.

 Around the time of Mrs Johasen’s suspension, FIFA provided 50.000 US dollars funding for operational expenses, such as audit reports and so on...She was not allowed to manage those funds because of the charges I spoke about earlier. So, when I stepped in, I used the money to pay salaries (some of them were 3 to 4 months past due to employees), other utilities and  bills. All the receipts were presented to the ACC (Anti Corruption commission). They found no wrongdoing. I submitted that report to the ethics board. All the executive members signed documents and agreed to use the money for the purpose aforementioned.

"Mazzola" the legend, during the Africa Sports years. Photo/BJLT

As far as I am concerned, I deserve better and the country and the world of football should know that I am going to fight this, tooth and nail.

“Mazzola”: I want to take this opportunity to address my president. When she had her issues with the law, I stepped in until she cleared her name. I was a witness in her case for the greater good of our nation, on the advice of lawyers. She came back to continue the work where it was started, in fact in her absence we improved the morale of our football family, but I am now convinced that she is behind the witch-hunt to get me out of the way. What have I not done to defend her...? I once spent three days in custody because I stood up to people who were mishandling her. I am the vice president on paper but she runs her affairs as she pleases without regards to teamwork. I am never associated with anything concerning our football when it comes to delegating power. It is as if I have suddenly turned into an enemy.

In her shoes, I would have called for unity for our common wealth; the youth and the beautiful game. I have played at the highest level so I know how beautiful it is to play and win as a team.

We have no time to lose by standing divided. We must make Sierra Leone Football shine. Our entire structure needs help out of the pandemic and years of neglect. It is time to hold hands and work together. Or if we cannot work together, allow equal opportunity to everyone. 

FIFA and CAF are launching the Inter-School Pan-African Championships. A great endeavour for African football, African youth and football in schools. I want to shine with my country. I don't want to waste my time bickering and backstabbing. I want the whole world to know that she refuses any limelight for anybody.

Speaking of the limelight, I have been there, done that. I was one of the first professionals from Sierra Leone who made the country proud. Anybody can ask anyone anywhere I have been, I proudly represented my country. Ivory Coast is a perfect example. We cannot be bent on mistreating people who have served this country on the highest level. Take for example Mohamed Kalone, he was also disqualified from the process.

As far as I am concerned, I deserve better and the country and the world of football should know that I am going to fight this, tooth and nail. As it stands now, no footballer is participating in this contest. I was the only one around. I serve as a vice president now. I am happy to serve my country either as vice president or president of the Sierra Leone football association. I think this conspiracy is not right. I was one of the brightest stars ever to have shone on Sierra Leone football.

I lived in America for 20 or so years with my family. Never had an incident in terms of integrity or anything that would cause harm to anybody. I am shocked that, back in my country I decide to help build something out of nothing and here I am facing ethics’ imaginary charges.

I have never been able to exhibit my talent or experience during our tenure together.Sadly, I have to go thru this with the so-called ethic board which seems to lack any, when it comes to the heroes of Sierra Leone. They are trying to assassinate my character and that of my family.

Ivory Coast Tribune: what are your plans if this whole saga does not pan out in your favour?

 Brima “Mazzola” Kamara: I don't see the process going forward without me not taking part in it, because I insist, I have done nothing wrong. However, if it is the will of the almighty that I am on the losing end, I will take some time off in America after proudly serving my country. Then, I will come back here to help develop football with those who will be in charge. I have a lot to give back. The cycle of life includes winning and losing. 

I am an athlete. I know better. The trill is still on...Thank you.

Published by Claude Djaquis

05/05/[email protected]:00