In latter 1988, the Liberia Football Association (LFA) reigning MVP, and Invincible Eleven (IE) most prized asset at the time, George Oppong Weah made headlines when he signed a THREE YEAR CONTRACT worth USD $30.000.00 (thirty thousand dollars) with the Cameronian soccer champion, Tonnerre De Yaoundé as a SEMIPROFESSIONAL PLAYER. His first manager was Mohammed Konneh, and Then, subsequently Alhaji Sidibay.

After few months of impressive performances with Tonnerre in Cameron, Oppong was scouted by the French First Division Club, A. S. Monaco which signed him in mid 1989 from Tonnerre for a similar tryst THREE – YEAR CONTRACT worth USD $210.000.00 (two Hundred and ten thousand dollars).

Weah’s explosion on the international soccer arena as a professional player in Europe was greeted with enthusiasm, and jubilation back home for such enviable feat in the country’s contemporary soccer history.

So, amid that, when a breaking news emerged as headline on a local media outlet to the effect that Oppong’s signature fees of $30.000.00 (thirty thousand dollars); occasioned by his transfer from Tonnerre to A. S. Monaco was allegedly paid to Liberia’s envoy to Cameron, Ambassador Carlton A. Karpeh who was accused of coveting same to his personal use without remittance to the LFA, and or authorities of the Invincible Eleven; it created a whirlwind of accusations, and counter accusations that claimed the attention of President Doe who was also Chairman of LFA, and a profound soccer enthusiast.

Doe immediately constituted a Presidential committee headed by veteran football administrator, and Minister of State without Portfolio, John P. Beh who earlier served as President of IE; Minister of Youth and Sports, and Chairman of the LFA. Other members of the committee included former sports minister Fred J. Blay; former UL President, Dr. Joseph G. Morris, and Ambassador George Wallace who represented the foreign ministry.

In a bid to ensure a speedy and transparent investigation, President Doe further recalled Ambassador Karpeh from his assignment in Cameron to submit to the Committee’s investigation, and correspondingly communicated to the authorities of Tonnerre, and A. S. Monaco to fashion their representatives or officials to assist with the investigation.

The French Embassy accredited near this Capitol represented Monaco’s interest, while Tonnerre was represented by one of its technical staffs.

After weeks of intense investigation that encompassed all the aforementioned stakeholders, including officials of IE, LFA, and Oppong’s manager Alhaji Sidibay, it was revealed that the Ambassador was FALSELY ACCUSED of receiving the Transfer Fees which triggered his clearance of the allegations.

Below are the Sporting Life newspaper which was the first media outlet that published the saga with a headline WHO RECEIVED OPPONG’S TRANSFER FEES? Full investigation needed, and The NEWS newspaper which reported the Presidential Committee findings with a headline PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE CLEARS AMB. KARPEH.

The contents of The NEWS newspaper story per the clearance are transcribed below:

Liberia’s Ambassador to the Cameron, and former Minister of Information, His Excellency Carlton A. Karpeh, has been cleared of all charges levied against him by Liberia’s Professional Footballer, Mr. George Oppong Weah and his manager, Mr. Alhaji Sidibay, regarding the non delivery of the sum of $30.000.00 (Thirty thousand dollars) allegedly received from the French First Division Club, A. S. Monaco.

The decision is based on findings and recommendations of the Special Presidential Committee set up by the President, and Chairman of the Liberia Football Association by and through John P. Beh, Minister of State without Portfolio to investigate the matter.

Amongst the reasons cited for clearing Ambassador Karpeh are Weah’s own disposition, and the President of A.S. Monaco Mr. J. L. Camporee in which the President affirmed that apart from payment made to the Cameron’s club, Tonnerre De Yaoundé no other sum had been paid to any representative of the Liberian Government.

Meanwhile, President Doe has said that Ambassador Karpeh continues to enjoy his confidence, and has directed that he return to his post and resume his duties as Liberia’s envoy to Cameron, Tchad, and Equatorial Guinea.

It can be recalled that following repeated press allegations against Ambassador Karpeh, over the allegations of George Oppong Weah’s signature fees, President Doe requested the Ambassador to return to the country to vindicate himself.

The Presidential Committee was headed by John P. Beh, Minister of State without Portfolio; former Youth and Sports Minister, Sinoe County Senior Senator, Fred J. Blay, and the Director of the World Bank Project, and former President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Joseph G. Morris

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Rudolph Johnson extended the Ministry’s thanks and appreciation to the President for affording the Ambassador the opportunity to clear his name, and cautioned the media to thoroughly investigate all accusations levied against Government Officials,, especially Foreign Service Officers, in a view of the adverse impact their reports may have on the Officers as well as the image of the country.

By: Archie P. Williams