Fifa bans matches at crumbling Sierra Leone stadium

Sierra Leone's decrepit national stadium has been banned from staging matches until the ground is brought up to international standards.

The Sierra Leone Football Association said it had received a letter from Fifa, football's world governing body, stating that safety provisions as well as changing and medical facilities at the Freetown stadium were inadequate.

The former British colony, wrecked and brutalised by a decade of civil war, is bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index which ranks countries by quality of life. Football provides relief for many of its poor, unemployed citizens – including charity games between teams of amputees who lost limbs in rebel atrocities. David Beckham's visit in January as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF drew cheering crowds.

During the war, Freetown's stadium became a haven for displaced people fleeing rebels, and it was damaged when rebel fighters overran the city in 1999.

China, which first built the stadium nearly 30 years ago, funded a facelift in 2001 as the war drew to a close. But the structure, which sees regular use as Freetown's major venue not only for sport, but also concerts and political rallies, has again fallen into disrepair.

The decision to ban matches at the stadium came after a visiting Fifa team warned the SLFA last year to improve facilities, but little has been done.

"The decision by Fifa is most welcome, because it is long overdue for the entire football pitch to be engaged in maintenance," Abu Turay, who plays with the Port Authority team in the country's Premier League, said. "Bravo Fifa! Don't relent," he said.

Sierra Leone are due to host their next home game on 6 June, a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in Group Four.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created