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STATESMAN OPINION: TIME FOR REFORM AT THE GFA

General News

In the past several weeks and months, the Ghana Football Association has been under fire over allegations of corruption and dictatorial management. The GFA president, Kwasi Nyantakyi, has been accused of running a Mafia-type organisation within the Association. Critics claim that Mr Nyantakyi wants to run the GFA until such time as he leaves of his own accord, regardless of the seeming chaos in Ghanaian football administration.

In the past several weeks and months, the Ghana Football Association has been under fire over allegations of corruption and dictatorial management. The GFA president, Kwasi Nyantakyi, has been accused of running a Mafia-type organisation within the Association. Critics claim that Mr Nyantakyi wants to run the GFA until such time as he leaves of his own accord, regardless of the seeming chaos in Ghanaian football administration.

Clearly, many of the broad suspicions on the part of stakeholders ‒ from club administrators and the Sports Writers Association to spectators ‒ are wholly justifiable. The culture of rot in Ghanaian sport has produced poor performance at international and club level, in both the men’s game and the now popular women’s league.

Football is a global passion. That is why, in Ghana, offices, streets and markets are virtually empty and free of traffic when the Black Stars are playing.

Football is encouraged by the state and by private business, including corporate institutions. The brazen acts of alleged corruption and mismanagement engulfing the GFA are, therefore, a matter of grave national concern. It is shocking that the latest exposé of corruption in football involves club CEOs, close to 70 referees and 14 GFA officials. That should be enough to make all right-thinking Ghanaians call for not only speedy investigation and appropriate punishment, but also firm government intervention.

However, the GFA, by its constitution, is an autonomous body, required to regulate its own activities just like any other civil society group such as the Trades Union Congress, or the shrill Ghana Union of Traders Association. The GFA has its own rules and regulations, and must also follow the corresponding international Fifa rules and regulations.

The Association has overall responsibility for the game’s statutes and code of ethics, club licensing laws, inter-club arbitration by-laws, club agent and player list by-laws, as well as mechanisms such as association and club reports which ensure healthy soccer administration at all levels.

The GFA is equally the custodian of the framework for referee, coach and club manager qualification, as well as dispute resolution mechanisms. It supervises the system for electing club executives, in addition to its own duties as a national association in charge of football administration. All this ensures that the Association is both able to manage its internal affairs and equipped to supervise the sport and wider activities of clubs, players and spectators.

To argue that the state must intervene because of gaping corruption and inefficiency is not the best nostrum for reforming the GFA. Indeed, the GFA has mechanisms to ensure continual internal reforms, including emergency congresses to address any particular ills.

Although it may be annoying that the government seems merely to be looking on, we at the Daily Statesman urge GFA stakeholder-delegates, including club chief executives and their representatives, to mobilise and rally the numbers required to call an early congress. They should then use the appropriate structures to change the national executives and appoint a new team to clean the stables and help revive interest in the sport.

Once we are able to initiate these reforms, with the support of the most important interest groups, we will be able to attract the necessary sponsorship to grow players and their clubs and equip them to compete in the modern game.

Only this way will we succeed in joining the rest of the civilised world in making football a truly national sport – devoid of mean-spirited characters who seek only personal comfort and convenience while in public service, rather than the common good.