She said their opposition to her administration was “a combination of politics, it’s the governance and people refusing to change. It is not going to be business as usual.”
In the same BBC interview, Johansen said the division that had rocked Sierra Leone Football since 2013 was “all down to the changes that my executive has set out to make within the FA structures, having to weed out the old guard and the old way of doing things. If you like, it’s not about Isha’s way, it’s about what should be the way to run football or to run an FA and it was also about trying to distinguish between whether we can have gambling or gambling syndicates and gamblers taking part in football administration or not.”
On the question of whether the decision by eleven premier league clubs to boycott the SLFA-organised FA cup represented a slap on her administration, Johansen replied “I don’t think so. I think in Sierra Leone there is a lot of propaganda. Unfortunately we (SLFA) are not strong with defending propaganda…so that is why maybe you read more about what you get from the other side or what you hear from the other side rather than what we are actually enforcing. I think that Sierra Leoneans have now come to realise what the whole problem has been in Sierra Leone Football.”
She said football was in “shambles when I took over and so what we are saying is that let us try to play it a different way. Play this game in a different way. Let us try and bring a little bit more sanity, let us bring structures, let us bring discipline into the football…”
The chairman of the football stakeholders’ group, Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay told Politico that Johansen was attempting to “mislead the public because she knows the reality on the ground.” He said the SLFA “headed by Isha Johansen has failed to account for monies received from FIFA and the government of Sierra Leone and that is a very serious issue.”
Reacting to Johansen’s statement about weeding out the “old guard” from football administration, Sesay said that Johansen was targeting “established football clubs like Mighty Blackpool and East End Lions and other who are members of the SLFA.” He said only clubs are part of the SLFA, not individuals. “So who is she going to weed out?”
He said on Johansen’s watch, football has deteriorated so badly that ‘Sierra Leone is in free fall on the FIFA ranking”.
Observers have described Johansen’s latest interview as a missed opportunity to heal the divisions in the SLFA. A football administrator sympathetic to Johansen said he felt let down that even at this stage the FA president has not taken any concrete steps to “calm the troubled waters of football administration in Sierra Leone.”
A local radio station reported on Monday that staff of the SLFA have given notice that they would withhold their services by the end of this week if their demand for pay rise and improvement in working condition were not met.