George Weah: ‘I never cheated to win a penalty, I won’t cheat as President’

Weah, who is attending the ongoing Global Business Forum (GBF) for Africa in Dubai, made the remarks during an interactive session anchored by CNN’s Eleni Giokos. 234hitz was a part of the session.

Weah is the best footballer to emerge from the African continent. In 1995, Weah was named the FIFA footballer of the year and the Ballon d’Or winner.

Weah also won the African footballer of the year award in 1989, 1994 and 1995 and in 1996, he was named African player of the century. 

In 2015, Weah was elected Senator for Montserrado county and in 2018, he was elected the 25th President of Liberia. 

Growing up poor

“I want to perform as President of Liberia,” Weah says, spotting an all white, flowing traditional outfit. “I grew up in a village without roads and toilet in 1975. I grew up in a hut. I found myself in football because I badly wanted to be a successful person in life. I was looking for an opportunity to succeed and football provided that opportunity. 

A portrait of former footballer George Weah, running for Liberian president

A portrait of former footballer George Weah, running for Liberian president


“So, I went to Cameroon, Europe and I became the best player in the world. Football is like politics. It requires teamwork. Except that in football, when you do well, even fans of the opposing teams cheer you. But in politics, no matter how well you do, the opposition doesn’t cheer you up,” Weah adds to general laughter from the audience.

The problems of Liberia

In June, Liberians turned out in large numbers in the capital, Monrovia, to petition President Weah. The Liberian economy is in crisis, inflation is high, the Liberian nation is mired in huge debt and the average Liberians are battling soaring food and fuel prices as a consequence, according to DW.  

Liberians have been ranting about alleged top-level corruption and violations of human rights for months.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Liberian Leader George Weah [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

President Muhammadu Buhari and Liberian Leader George Weah [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

Many in Liberia worry that Weah is enriching himself, that he’s encouraged corruption within his government, that he is trying to silence his critics, that he is mingling with civil war-era figures and pulling the country back to its dictatorship past.

“I am a good person. I grew up with a resilient grandmother. I never cheated to get a penalty and I won’t cheat as president,” Weah says, while adding that the opposition isn’t helping his government. “I want to tackle corruption,” he says, adding that those who accuse him or his government of corruption are those who aren’t benefiting from government contracts. 

Shopping for investors in Dubai

Weah is shopping for foreign investors at the GBF in Dubai and promises tax incentives and reforms that will favour investors. “The Liberian business climate is conducive. Foreign investors are always welcome in Liberia,” he says.

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is organising the GBF Africa 2019 under the theme “Scale Up Africa” in an effort to underline the importance of cross border cooperation in supporting and accelerating Africa’s next phase of sustainable economic growth and development. 

Hamad Buamim is President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber (Arabian Business)

Hamad Buamim is President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber (Arabian Business)

“Since its inception, GBF Africa has served as a catalyst for UAE-Africa economic cooperation and business exchange. The forum highlights new high-potential areas where African companies can collaborate with their UAE counterparts to create new business opportunities and capitalise on existing trade and investment.

“Established in 1965, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry is a non-profit public entity, whose mission is to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai by creating a favourable business environment, supporting the development of business, and by promoting Dubai as an international business hub,” says H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber.  


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