George Weah have seen a lot of things during his playing career. He was the first, and actually the only, African player to win the Ballon d'Or. With two Italian domestic titles and one more in France, Weah is one of the best footballers in the history of Africa. His high profile and notable popularity, encouraged him to make a major shift after his retirement. Weah decided to become a politician, but even an experienced person like him would not thought that it will be so difficult.
In 2005, Weah ran for the first time as a candidate for Liberia presidency. He was tipped as a favorite contender in the first round but didn't got enough votes to gain a majority. At the second round he was defeated by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, winning 41% of the votes. At the next week, Weah will try to do it once again and the latest opinion polls predicting that he will be the winner at the first round and favorite to win the second round.
Weah's opponents trying to do anything to convince the citizens to vote for them instead of voting for Weah. Few months ago, one of his main opponents, Joseph Boakai, revealed that Weah is also a U.S. citizen, showing copy of his passport to the press. According to the law in Liberia, you cannot hold a foreign passport, and therefore Boakai claimed that Weah is ineligible to be a president. It's another part on his rivals attempts to make his Liberian identity in dispute. Weah now needs to show once again his loyalty to his fatherland, but it wouldn't be easy when even your family doesn't support you.
In 1989, one of the deadliest civil wars in the history began in Liberia. Scenes of murder and rape by both of the fighting sides were common. Children in Liberia had few options: to be killed or to be part of the army. Almost million Liberians became refugees and were displaced in camps all over the neighboring nations. The estimation for the death toll is between 400,000 to 650,000 people.
Back at that time, while George played in Europe, his wife Clar decided that in order to ensure a safe future for the family, she have to fled from Liberia. Clar and the elder son of the family, George Jr., found themselves leaving to United States. It wasn't the only change that Weah family made. In 1996, after playing with Liberia at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and a meeting with Nelson Mandela, George Weah understood his power and started to made more statements against the war and its leaders from both sides. The message was clear and Charles Taylor, who was the rebels leader, decided that it's unacceptable. Taylor forces ransacked Weah's mansion in Monrovia, raped two of his cousins and even one of Taylor's assitants was spotted driving in Weah's car.
After the ceasefire was agreed in 1997, Taylor was elected to be the new President of Liberia. Weah understood that in order to be part of Liberia national team, he needs to reach an agreement with the new leadership that will make him acceptable by the regime. When Weah tried to lead his national team at the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, another civil war began in Liberia. In four years, all the horrible images from the first war were once again alive at the streets. As long as the campaign was successful, Weah was a real hero in Liberia and more people belived that he can lead the nation not only on the football field, but also at the political field. Weah knew the rules and said that he has no intentions to do so. For Taylor it was enough to mark another enemy. When the qualifiers campaign was over, Weah have left Liberia for long time.
The second civil war came to an end after Charles Taylor announced his resignation in 2003. Meanwhile, at Weah's family new crib abroad, two more children were born: his daugther Tita and his younger son Tim.
Weah family lives in prodperity in the United States. Clar Weah said that even if George will be elected, she will prefer to stay there than living in unstable Liberia as the First Lady. Being the family of a person that may be considered as the most famous Liberian, doesn't ensure that the whole family share the same proud Liberian national feelings and identity. While George Weah was an African icon that was recognized with Liberia, his son Tim is now growing up as another player from the United States.
Tim was born and raised in New York City. He made his first steps in football at the New York Red Bulls’ youth section. He was so impressing that at the age of 14 he got an offer to join to Paris Saint Germain academy. Due to his potential and skills he was called to the club's U-19 squad, while he celebrated during this season his seventeenth birthday.
When you show your talent at a young age, it is clear that you will get an opportunity to be part of a national team. He recieved a call-up from the U-17 United States national team and played at the U-17 CONCACAF Championships, where his team clinched a spot for the 2017 World Cup in India. Now Timothy will get another chance to showcase his talent to the world at the tournament that will kick off this week.
One of the highlights of Timothy Weah and his teammates during the tournament will be a match against Ghana. It will be interesting to see the face-off between the son of an African legend as part from the U.S. national team against one of the leading football nations in Africa. The amazing coincidence in this match is the fact that it will take place at the day before the elections, so for George Weah it will be curious to see whether the candidate for the role of President of Liberia will spend some of his last day as supporter of United States national team.
After years that the connection of George Weah to Liberia was clear, his identity his identity is facing a test. The questions that his rivals raise and the family that prefers the comfortable life abroad making Weah's campaign A one for proving his Liberian and African character. If it's not enough, Weah is part from coallition with Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, who Weah spoke against him two decades ago.
Now, when anything that was known about him became a boiling debate, we need to wait and see whether the people of Liberia still thinks that George Weah have a strong connection to the country. If they do, it will be their approval that he can be a decent president for the West African country.