What started as a friendly soccer match between Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone ended in a diplomatic incident.
GV EXTERIOR President Tolbert of Liberia standing on tarmac with President Stevens of Sierra Leone (2 shots)
SV AND GV Guards taking salute and President Tolbert inspecting guard of honour (3 shots)
GV: Dignatories and officials meeting Tolbert. (2 shots)
SV: National flags flying outside terminal building. (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR: President Tolbert making speech as officials listen.
SV: Two Presidents raising glasses in toast.
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Background: What started as a friendly soccer match between Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone ended in a diplomatic incident. And the row threatened to become so serious the countries Presidents had to get together to smooth things over.
SYNOPSIS: It was Liberia's President William Tolbert who made the first move. He flew to the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, for talks with President Siaka Stevens. It was in Freetown that the offending soccer match took place. The Liberian team and their supporters had come over to take on the Sierra Leone side. Things were friendly enough to start with, but by the end of the game the Liberian contingent, including a government minister, claimed they'd been pushed to the ground and kicked by Sierra Leone soldiers.
The Liberians were outraged and the governments of both countries were worried, and with good reasons. In 1969 Honduras and El Salvador went to war for ten days in a dispute over a world cup match. With that in mind, and amid calls for the breaking of relations between their two countries, President Tolbert and President Stevens began the search for an honourable settlement. It came with a promise from President Stevens of a full investigation. Liberia has protested to the international Football Federation over the game which, incidentally, was won by Sierra Leone.