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Musa Bility: A colossal leadership failure at LFA


Musa Bility-LFA President

By: Momolu V.O. Sirleaf

When Mr. Musa Bility campaigned for the Presidency of the Liberia Football Association, he used that time to call for a change, making football pundits to believe that he had the magic solution to the problems of Liberian football. He gave the assertion that he could just waive his fingers and Liberian football would be on par with the rest of the world.

In March 2010 during the LFA Congress, a little over 70% of stakeholders bought his argument and gave him a resounding victory against incumbent Cllr. S. Izetta Wesley. He was given the mandate to revamp Liberian football to take it to new heights. But the pomp and pageantry that greeted the election of Mr. Bility LFA evaporated before it ever started.

Using his signature issue as “Commercialization” during his campaign, the LFA boss vowed to bring sweeping reforms to Liberian soccer. However, our football program is today in a very miserable state with the nation virtually out of all major competitions. What a difference a year can make, Mr. Bility? Anyway, here’s a laundry list of leadership failures by Mr. Bility.

Lowest FIFA-Coca Cola International Ranking

Since its introduction in August 1993, the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking has become a regular part of international sports reports and an important indicator for FIFA's member associations to find out where their respective teams stand in world football's pecking order and how they are progressing.

When the new leadership came to power in March 2010, Liberia was at 152nd place in the FIFA Coca Cola World Ranking under the Izetta Wesley leadership. The then candidate Mr. Bility decried the poor state of the country football and promised to take Liberia out of the woods.

Now here’s Mr. Bility’s record for this. Under the watchful eyes of the LFA President, Liberia has taken a nose-dive in the FIFA rankings and now the country is languishing at 160th place in world football ranking as of March11, 2011. Liberia is actually retrogressing instead of making progress. So let’s make a critical analysis, if we continued this trend and by the time the tenure of Mr. Bility would be over, Liberia would be at about 179th place. What a record he would have set. How low can you take Liberia on the FIFA ranking, Mr. Bility?

Taking away or giving back, LFA Executive Members take away L$ 9.4 Million dollars
To win the minds and souls of members of the Executive Committee, Mr. Bility dished out to each of his fifteen Executive Members US$9,000.00 as a loan to enable them buy luxurious vehicles including sports utility vehicle (SUVs). The question many people are asking is that whether the LFA has turned into an investment club or better still “SUSU CLUB” in the Liberian phraseology. When teams under the leadership of Mr. Bility can hardly get by, his Executive Committee Members are riding flashy cars while the poor players sweat it out every day. That’s the change Mr. Bility promised.

Mr. Bility’s insensitivity to Liberian football has put the LFA into a mammoth L$9.4 million dollars debt. He met a clean financial slate left behind by Cllr. Wesley, but see what he has done by putting the LFA into a huge financial hole. That’s commercialization at its best, folks.

National Senior Team and Under 23 National Team practically out of the running
The Lone Star has virtually crashed out of running for the 2012 African Cup of Nations finals. So far the senior team has sustained two losses with one pitiful draw as we now languish at the bottom of the four-team group. Hopes of qualifying for our third Nation Cup were dealt a devastating blow with a 4-2 loss to Cape Verde a fortnight ago. That was the final nail into the coffin of the national team. With two games left for our Nations Cup campaign, not even a miracle can save us against Zimbabwe and Mali considering the winsome form of those countries.

To add insults to injuries, the National U-23 suffered a devastating blow at the expense of the Ivoirians in their first leg qualifier. Going into the return leg 0-4, there’s little hope that our boys can make a come-back. Listen, I believe in come-backs but it remains to be seen if our boys can be the “come-back kids” to borrow from U.S. President Bill Clinton during his run for the U.S. Presidency in 1992. It, therefore, looks like we are practically out of the running of the London 2012 Finals.

I have been through a campaign like this before with the senior national team when I was an active sports journalist. Working closely with the late Coach Wilfred “Kijani” Lardner, the strategy then in 1994-95 African Cup of Nations qualifiers was to win all our homes games and a fight for draws away. It took real commitment on the side of LFA and the national team players and we did accomplish that feat by appearing in South Africa for our first-ever Nations Cup Finals in 1996. But let’s face it, our Nations Cup and London 2012 campaign is now history.

Cronyism takes precedence

Cronyism has been the order of the day since Mr. Bility took over the LFA. The first strategy Mr. Bility employed was to bring his friends and cronies into leadership positions. The LFA boss quickly created a huge paying position of Chief of Office Staff and an Aide, though draining huge resources from the coffers of the LFA. It is surely payback time for the folks who helped him into winning the presidency. It is cronyism at its best in the LFA. Dat fire!

The LFA usually commutes more officials on trips than necessary. The LFA overwhelmed Sierra Leone with over a 45-person delegation for the nation’s U-23 clash with the Sierra Leoneans. What a waste of national resources. Now you can realize why the cell phone company pulled off the plug on its US$2.1 million dollars deal with the LFA in order to avoid waste of company’s meager resources. So we are back to square one on sponsorship, a key campaign issue for Mr. Bility.

Commercialization or De-commercialization? Be my guest!

LFA’s first wakeup call was the cancellation of the lucrative contract entered into by Lone Star Cell Communication. With a United States two million dollars deal sealed between the LFA and LSCC, it was a proud moment for Liberian football. Resource mobilization by Mr. Bility was a major campaign message. But before the ink could dry on the paper, the cell phone company yanked the rug from under the LFA.

Even though Mr. Bility is again celebrating another “undisclosed and shady” deal with a rival cell phone company, it’s not clear as to the benefits the ordinary footballers will accrue from the so-called deal. You can sign all the million dollars deals, but when your football programs continue to plummet, then it’s not worth it.
One phase National Premiership League:

There is a saying that first impression is a lasting one. This is indeed true for the first organized league by the Bility leadership. For the first time, in our modern football history the LFA organized a one-phase league to the detriment of Liberian football. With a huge sponsorship from a GSM Company, the Bility administration can only manage a one-phase league. The LFA’s only defense is that they don’t have enough resources to manage a two-phase league. Give me a break, Musa. There are enough resources for a two-phase league which would have brought out the best in the various teams. But the fact is that Mr. Bility has his priority upside down. What a shame!

No female league: a blow to women’s soccer

In Mr. Bility’s campaign brochure, he laid emphasis on women football development and promised to develop the game to an acceptable standard in Liberia. But the LFA organized its men’s national league without the female version.

However, the LFA committed the female team to an international competition without a regular league. Guess what the result was? A disgraceful 0-11 exit and that was enough to see Liberia out. The irony is that how would you commit the team to a competitive international competition with-out a regular league.

Liberia’s African Club Championships Dream Ends

Mighty Barrolle and Barrack Young Controllers (BYC), an amazing club in Liberia, qualified for Africa this year. However, the LFA created its greatest gaffe so far by not registering BYC for Africa this year. This is the first time in modern Liberian football history that the LFA forgot to register its club for Africa. This was one of the embarrassing moments for the current leadership. After promising tough football leadership, the LFA actually let one of their own down.

Mighty Barrolle has bowed out of the African Championships following their 2-1 loss in Monrovia to Kano Pillars, meaning that there is no more local club action for Liberian.

LFA National Congress not on schedule

The Bility leadership is so ineffective that it can’t hold its National Congress on schedule. The LFA boss campaigned on being results-oriented. But March 2011 has passed without the LFA holding its congress as obligated by its statue. When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duct, it’s a duck. Simply put, the Bility leadership is ineffective.

No Policy, No Plan, No Roadmap for football development

One year after sweeping into office, the Musa Bility-led administration is yet to develop a vision for football development. Mind you the LFA President’s Commercialization theme he pounded away with during the campaign is not a vision, but a set of programs. I have consistently pleaded with Mr. Bility to begin a stakeholders’’ consultative process to start the crafting of a vision for the LFA. No institution can survive without a plan and a roadmap. Football is scientific and requires thorough planning and policy development processes. But it seems that the LFA does not get it. They are stuck into that old mentality of doing business as usual. Nothing has actually changed at the LFA besides new faces in old wine bottles.

Just because Mr. Bility carried the tone at the time didn’t mean that he knew the message. In short, all that glitters is not gold as the present leadership did not have the “silver bullet” to deliver Liberian football from its mediocre state to a more vibrant state.
Some of those who advocated for change and were at daggers-drawn with the former leadership are today silent at the grave abuse of leadership at the LFA. The likes of Andy Quamie, Samuel Kahn Adolf Lawrence, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh, Orishall Gould etc who find themselves in the corridors of power have not moved the LFA one step further. But the rooster is coming home to nest soon and they will be paid back in their own coin for poor leadership.

Mr. Bility vigorously campaigned for change but all we want as stakeholders is for him to return the LFA money from his executives. He can have his change.

About the author:
Momolu V.O. Sirleaf is a veteran Liberian sports journalist, whose sports journalism career spanned for a decade and a half in Liberia (1985-1999). He served as President of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) 1996-1999). He is a syndicated columnist and a former Managing Editor of WORLD SPORTS Newspaper.

He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Global Public Policy from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Momolu also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Financial Management from the National American University. He is currently serving as Secretary-General of Invincible Eleven/Majestic Sports Association and as well serves as Liberian Health Sector Partnership Coordinator with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.


Publisher Note: Liberiansoccer.com states The information, opinions and analysis contained herein are based on the writers opinion, but no representation, expressed or implied, is made as to iLiberiansoccer.com opinion.


 
 

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