By Kemo Cham
Leone Stars midfielder, Alfred ‘Zagalo’ Sankoh, has come under severe criticism for assaulting a female reporter.
Mr Sankoh, who reportedly physically attacked and insulted SLBC [Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation] sports reporter Frances Bernard, was lambasted for an “unsportsmanly behavior” by three journalism associations which have thrown their backing behind the reporter. The Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL), Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL), and the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU), in a joint statement demanded an apology from the player.
“SWASAL, WIMSAL and SLRU strongly condemn the behavior of Alfred “ZAGALO” Sankoh, who is supposed to be a ‘professional footballer'. We further wish to draw his attention to the fact that physical assaults, insults and unsportsmanly behaviour have no place in civilized societies where women are most respected,” they said in the statement.
“In addition, we demand within the next 24 hours an unreserved written apology for publication in both the Print and Electronic Media from Alfred “ZAGALO” Sankoh.”
Sankoh plays his club football in Turkey. He is currently in Sierra Leone after been called to play in last week’s Leone Stars- Sudan encounter in Freetown in which the home side won. The match was part of the 2017 AFCON qualifier.
One of the sponsors of the team, the cement manufacturer Leocem, decided to donate bags of cement to the team players and officials as a show of appreciation for their performance against the Sudanese side. According to sources, it was during the distribution of the donation that Sankoh allegedly attacked the reporter.
According to the account of the SWASAL, WIMSAL, SLRU joint statement, Ms Bernard had gone to attend the handing over ceremony on the invitation of the Sierra Leone Football Association when she was “physically assaulted and publicly insulted” by the player right in the premises of LEOCEM at Cline Town in the east end of Freetown.
The statement cited an audio recording of an interview with the player by an unnamed journalist in which Sankoh admitted to have attacked the reporter. In that interview, he allegedly defended his actions, saying his uncle had informed him that whilst away in Turkey, the journalist had been accusing him on national Television of persistently feigning injuries whenever called upon to play for his country
Sankoh is reported to have told Francess and other sports journalists in interview to “go ahead and continue to talk all sorts of rubbish about me because I am fed up with you Sports Journalists.
The three journalists associations concerned said they were exploring “other available options” in the event the player failed to comply with their demand of apology.
Mr Sankoh, later on Wednesday evening, caved in to pressure and, in a hurriedly organized press conference, issued an apology to the player.
“As a national athlete that is supposed to be a role model for young people, I regret my actions and hereby call on the media and the women’s group to which the young lady belongs to forgive me,” he said, reading from a prepared statement, at the press conference held at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
(C) Politico 10/06/16