Berlusconi backs soccer star Weah in Liberia


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has thrown his weight behind former soccer star George Weah, who is bidding to become president of Liberia.

"I have never stopped being his fan," Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Il Giornale newspaper published today.

"I appreciated him on the soccer field and I now appreciate him in this new challenge."

Weah played for Berlusconi's AC Milan soccer team between 1995 and 2000. He has now retired from sport and has entered politics in his native Liberia, standing as a candidate in Tuesday's presidential election.

Critics say Weah does not have the necessary experience to tackle such a difficult job, but Berlusconi said soccer was a great classroom for all sorts of challenges.

"I believe that sport provides very valid training for life. It teaches moral rigour, commitment and suffering," he said, adding "With the election victory, (Weah) will score the most important goal of his career."

Mr Berlusconi said that if Weah emerged victorious, he would try to organise a benefit match for Liberia at AC Milan.