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Liberia: Respect the rules!

04-06-1998 News Release 98/22

Monrovia's main stadium, which still bears the scars of the recent seven-year conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, was the scene of an extraordinary event on 31 May - a day which Liberian football star George O.  Weah intended should long remain in the minds of his fellow Liberians, a nation of avid football fans.

Addressing an audience of 15,000 people who had come to watch a friendly match between the two best top-division Liberian football teams, Weah, who is currently with the Milan football club and in 1995 won French TV's trophy for best player of the year, said " we must all respect the rules governing behaviour in civil society - in fulfilling our individual duties as well as in assuming our collective obligations. This applies both to the rules of international humanitarian law in times of war and to those established by the leaders of the football world " .

To enable the crowd better to visualize the chaos that sets in when rules are abandoned, the Liberian Red Cross Society, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies organized an original demonstration at the beginning of the match, during which - to the audience's utter amazement - the 22 players  of the " Invincible Eleven " and the " Mighty Barrolle " teams ignored all the rules of the game and the referee's instructions.

With only a few days to go before the kick-off of the football World Cup series in France, Weah and the other Liberian players wanted to show, in their own way, that there is nothing inevitable about the suffering caused by war.