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GOVT MOVES TO DISSOLVE GFA: POLICE TO INVESTIGATE 'CORRUPT' OFFICIALS

Sports

The Akufo-Addo government yesterday announced that it was taking immediate steps to dissolve the Ghana Football Association. The state initiated the action in view of alleged acts of corruption involving top officials of the sport’s governing body in this country, as captured by the investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in his latest documentary.

The Akufo-Addo government yesterday announced that it was taking immediate steps to dissolve the Ghana Football Association. The state initiated the action in view of alleged acts of corruption involving top officials of the sport’s governing body in this country, as captured by the investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in his latest documentary.

 

The government says it is “shocked and outraged” by the contents of the film, “Number 12”. The state’s response largely reflects the feeling of Ghanaians.

“Having regard to the widespread nature of the apparent rot involving top GFA officials, top NSA officials, match commissioners, football administrators and referees, Government has decided to take immediate steps to have the GFA dissolved,” said a release from Information Minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid.

The minister added that the government would soon announce provisional measures to govern football in the country until a new body is put in place.

The government describes the conduct of the affected officials as “questionable, potentially criminal acts”. It has referred the matter to the police for further investigation and appropriate action.

“The police are to take such relevant measures as are necessary to ensure that the contents of the documentary are rapidly and thoroughly investigated,” the minister’s statement said.

It is expected that these decisions will be communicated to the Confederation of African Football and the International Federation of Association Football. The government of Ghana will engage with both organisations “to chart the way forward for Ghana football”, the Information Minister said.

His statement further assured the public that the government would see to it that reforms “are urgently undertaken to sanitise football administration in the country”.

The announcement last night will come as good news to many Ghanaians who have demanded swift action that will lead to reform at the GFA and ensure that the government has greater control over football administration. They believe this is the surest way to ensure a reasonable level of accountability at the Association and renew fans’ confidence in the game.

After the revelations in the investigative piece by Anas, the Daily Statesman sampled the views of a cross-section of Ghanaians. These indicated that the public wants to see an end to the present situation, in which the GFA is seen as a law unto itself.

Although all agree there is a need for swift reform in Ghanaian football, there are two schools of thought on how to go about it. Some think there should be a complete overhaul at the GFA, in which the entire FA will be dissolved and the ongoing Premier League suspended; others say that those officials “caught”, who will almost certainly be found guilty of misconduct, must be dealt with as dictated by law, while “those who are clean” be made to carry on working.

A former Youth and Sports Minister, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, has argued forcefully that the state should dismantle the entire GFA hierarchy.

“The government must dissolve the GFA with immediate effect and face the consequences from Fifa. It is the only thing that will save Ghana football,” Vanderpuye said in a radio interview.

“Nigeria did it and today they are reaping the benefits. They incurred a six-month ban for it, but today they are in the World Cup. We didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so this is the time for us to take that action. It will give us enough time to reorganise our football before the World Cup in Qatar [in 2022] comes around. The GFA is an association under the Sports Ministry, so it can be done,” he said.

Similar views were articulated by Kwame Sefa Kayi, host of Peace FM’s “Kokrokoo” show, and Dan Kwaku Yeboah, a seasoned sports journalist who, in addition to the FA’s dissolution, would like to see the Premier League suspended.

“The GFA needs a complete overhaul,” Yeboah told the Daily Statesman yesterday. “This means the entire FA must be dissolved immediately, while the League is also suspended.

“If you have a situation where about 80 of your referees are implicated in such a massive corruption scandal, then it is clear you can’t immediately get credible referees to officiate your matches.”

Like many others, Yeboah believes the GFA constitution must be reviewed, especially those sections dealing with election of the Association’s president and other officers.

“If you have a number just a little above 100 electing the president, then you can be sure that manipulations can be easy. That is exactly the case at the GFA. Because the president is also elected before the grass roots, he can influence the elections at that level to get his people there.

“Again, he is the one who appoints his vice, and all these arrangements make him a very powerful person who can manipulate the FA as he wants,” Yeboah said.

Ken Bediako, a veteran sports journalist and retired football administrator, shares Yeboah’s position, except that he does not see the need for a complete overhaul.

In an interview with the Daily Statesman, Bediako, a member of the Black Stars management committee in 1992, explained that the problems at the FA started when the Association’s constitution was changed to give “Nyantakyi so much powers that he can appoint his vice and other key officers who are all his friends”.

“It was the fault of the football fraternity and what has happened now offers the best opportunity to correct the defects in the constitution,” he said.

Bediako also supported the view that the time has come for the government to have greater control over soccer administration.

“The GFA cannot be a law unto itself. It must be governed by the laws of the country. That is why the government must have control over the FA. After all, the government has a whole ministry in charge of sports and it also provides the resources for the FA. So the government can’t leave the GFA alone to do what it likes,” he told the Daily Statesman.

Bediako called on the president of the GFA, Kwesi Nyantakyi to “honourably resign so that a general meeting can be held for the good ones to take over”.