George Weah

Why Do People Hate George Weah?

George Weah is a Liberian politician and former professional footballer who served as the 25th President of Liberia from 2018 to 2024. He entered politics after retiring from football in 2003 and ran unsuccessfully for president in 2005 before winning the 2017 election.

Despite his popularity as a football star, Weah has become a polarizing figure as president due to allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement, and authoritarianism. This article will examine some of the reasons why George Weah generates such strong negative feelings among certain segments of the Liberian population and the international community.

Background on George Weah’s Football Career

Before entering politics, George Weah was revered as one of Africa’s greatest football players. He played for top European clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, and Manchester City, becoming the first and only African player to win FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or.

Weah almost singlehandedly led the Liberian national team to unprecedented success, qualifying for the African Cup of Nations twice. Liberians took great pride in his achievements, considering him a national hero.

This early fame and adulation laid the foundations for Weah’s political career. Many Liberians felt that if he could take the country to new heights on the football pitch, he could also lead the nation to prosperity in politics.

However, the skills required for sporting and political success are quite different. Once elected, Weah would face challenges exposing his limitations as a policymaker and administrator.

Allegations of Corruption

One of the biggest criticisms of Weah is that he has used the presidency to enrich himself, his family, and associates. Nepotism abounds, with his sons and close friends given lucrative government posts. His lavish lifestyle, including buying mansions abroad and flying in private jets, appears hypocritical when most Liberians remain poor.

Weah received an annual salary of around $90,000 as a footballer but his current wealth totals over $275 million according to some estimates. The origins of his fortune are murky, as he has provided contradictory explanations. Critics allege he embezzled state funds for personal gain, pointing to the construction of dozens of properties in just a few years.

Economic Mismanagement

Weah inherited a weak economy damaged by civil war and the Ebola crisis. Yet his policy decisions seem to have exacerbated Liberia’s economic woes:

  • Inflation has soared to an annual rate of 30%
  • The Liberian dollar has rapidly depreciated
  • Government debts have ballooned

Critics accuse Weah of reckless spending on flashy infrastructure projects like highways and public buildings that bring little benefit to ordinary Liberians. He has printed new banknotes without backing which increased inflation.

Weah touts his Pro-Poor Agenda meant to reduce poverty and inequality. But most Liberians feel like they are getting poorer, not richer, under his leadership. Liberia still relies heavily on foreign aid, and government revenues cannot cover expenditures, resulting in an unsustainably high budget deficit.

Economic Indicators

Economic Indicator20182022
GDP Annual Growth Rate3.2%2.0%
Inflation Rate23.4%30%
Budget Deficit (% of GDP)5%9%

Increase in Authoritarianism

As Weah’s popularity has declined, he has resorted to more authoritarian means to suppress dissent. Security forces have violently dispersed anti-government protests, resulting in several deaths during 2020 and 2021.

Weah has attempted to crack down on press freedoms by jailing critical journalists and shutting down media outlets. He pushed to make anti-government speech illegal as “sedition” and “terroristic threats.” These anti-democratic actions betray the principles many Liberians fought for during the civil war.

The disappearance and death of opposition activist Henry Costa in early 2023 sparked fears that Liberia is sliding back towards being a police state under Weah’s rule. While Weah denied involvement, the government’s heavy-handed response raises suspicions of foul play.

Perceptions of Incompetence and Poor Education

Many Liberians view Weah as an incompetent leader promoted beyond his capabilities. His record implies a poor understanding of economics and public policy. Weah has lashed out at critics, claiming they “don’t know book” and only he knows what’s best for the country.

But Weah’s own lack of formal education undermines faith in his knowledge and abilities. He dropped out of high school to pursue football and does not have a university degree. This fosters the impression that he lacks the expertise to manage a complex modern economy.

Weah’s defenders argue he has street smarts and common sense that outweigh academics. Yet his intellectual limitations become glaring during policy discussions, where he seems out of his depth. For Liberia to progress, many argue an educated technocrat would be better suited as president.

Disappointing Relations with International Community

As a footballer, Weah was a source of immense pride and goodwill for Liberia across Africa and beyond. Many expected his presidency to usher in a new era of international cooperation and investment.

Instead, Weah’s relations with foreign governments and institutions like the IMF and World Bank have been strained. Government corruption and economic mismanagement have delayed aid disbursements and debt relief packages.

Weah’s vocal criticisms of French and American policies strike some as pandering to anti-Western populism. Diplomatic ties with Liberia’s major partners have cooled during Weah’s tenure compared to the goodwill when he was elected. This threatens much-needed foreign investment and assistance.


In conclusion, while George Weah retains a small core of die-hard supporters, he has largely squandered the huge reservoir of goodwill from his football career. Allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement, authoritarianism, and incompetence fuel rising anti-Weah sentiments in Liberia and internationally.

Weah is unlikely to complete his second full term as frustrations boil over. His story is a cautionary tale about the limits of transferring sports stardom into political success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was George Weah so popular as a footballer?

As a footballer, George Weah achieved a level of success unprecedented for any African player. He was the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League in 1994–95 and won the Ballon d’Or/FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1995.

Weah almost single-handedly led Liberia to qualify for two African Cup of Nations tournaments. For soccer-mad Liberians, his skills and achievements were a deep source of national pride.

How did George Weah leverage his football career into politics?

Weah’s football fame gave him the name recognition and popularity to enter politics after retiring from soccer in 2003.

He cleverly drew direct parallels between excelling in sports and politics in his speeches. Many Liberians hoped electing their football idol as president would bring as much prosperity and prestige as his soccer career.

What evidence is there of economic mismanagement under Weah?

Liberia’s annual inflation rate has risen from around 15% to over 30% under Weah. The Liberian dollar has depreciated nearly 300% against the US dollar since 2018. Government debt has increased from 35% to 60% of GDP.

Weah printed billions of new banknotes without backing which fueled inflation. Government revenues cannot cover expenditures due to reckless spending and corruption.

How has George Weah suppressed opposition and criticism?

Weah has attempted to pass laws criminalizing “sedition” and “terroristic threats” to silence government critics. Security forces have violently dispersed anti-government protests leaving several dead.

Critical journalists have been jailed and media outlets shut down. The suspicious death of opposition activist Henry Costa sparked fears of a return to state-sanctioned violence and impunity.

How has Weah strained Liberia’s foreign relations?

Donors have cut aid due to government corruption and economic mismanagement under Weah. Diplomatic ties have cooled as international partners express concerns over undemocratic behavior.

Weah’s populist anti-Western rhetoric has not helped attract foreign investment. Liberia’s relations with the US, France, IMF, World Bank, and others have worsened compared to before Weah’s presidency.

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