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DECISION TO DISSOLVE GFA PUBLIC BACKS GOVERNMENT

Sports

The public response to the government’s decision to intervene in the affairs of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) following the Anas exposé of embarrassing levels of corruption in soccer administration has so far been largely positive.

The public response to the government’s decision to intervene in the affairs of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) following the Anas exposé of embarrassing levels of corruption in soccer administration has so far been largely positive.

 

The media, sports journalists, civil society, politicians and ordinary Ghanaians have joined forces to demand state intervention and a public inquiry.

The president of the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), Kudjoe Fianoo, has backed the government’s decision to dissolve the GFA.

The Anas investigative documentary, “Number 12”, which premiered last Wednesday at the Accra International Conference Centre, captured top Ghana FA officials, match commissioners and referees taking bribes to influence the outcome of games.

Twenty-four hours after the premiere, the government of Ghana, through Minister of Information Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, issued a statement announcing that it had decided to begin to dissolve the national soccer administrator.

 “Annihilating” GFA

“I side with the government to dissolve football in the country,” Kudjoe Fianoo told Asempa FM. “The Anas video has revealed massive rot in football and I think the government has taken the right decision to dissolve it.”

He added, “Certain key figures have been indicted in the video [who] include the FA president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, so the best thing the government can do is to dissolve football. But the best thing they could have done is consult GHALCA.”

However, Yaw Oppong, a private legal practitioner, has described as inappropriate the plans to dissolve the GFA.

Speaking on TV3’s “New Day”, Oppong argued that individuals implicated in the film investigation should be dealt with, rather than targeting the entire association. “It is more appropriate and better to deal with individuals as far as the Companies Act permits. We are annihilating the GFA, but we need it,” he said.

He said it is not right for the government to take a decision to dissolve the football association, because the GFA is not a civil society organisation.

“The Supreme Court on one occasion emphasised that the GFA is not a public body: it was not a body established by statute.”

Oppong said that some public institutions where officials have been caught engaging in fraudulent acts are still operating but the people concerned were prosecuted or disciplined. He cited the case of the erstwhile Customs & Excise Preventive Service (CEPS), where certain individuals were caught taking bribes; however, CEPS was not dissolved.

No tool for fraud

“The point I am making is that the fact that individuals in an institution have engaged in a proven misconduct does not mean the institution should be dissolved,” Oppong said. “So a few judges are engaged in a few immoral acts so you dissolve the judiciary?

“If individuals have been accused and we think the enormity of it means that they must suffer some liability, we move them and that decision can be taken by the board and stakeholders,” he suggested.

Oppong argued that there is no evidence that the GFA itself is being used as a tool to defraud or commit fraud.

“Three or four of its executives may be accused of wrongdoing but that does not mean that the entire institution has now become a tool for committing fraud, and fraud can only be proven in court,” he said.

Banned delegation

In another development, credible reports indicate that the GFA will not be participating in Wednesday’s Fifa Congress to decide the host of the 2026 Fifa World Cup. The government has refused to sanction FA officials from participating in the global gathering.

Morocco will be hoisting the flag for Africa in the bidding race.

Wilfred Osei Kweku Palmer, an FA official with the distressed GFA, was scheduled to lead a delegation to the event, slated to be held in Switzerland, but reports in the Ghanaian media have it that the trio has been banned from making the trip.

Kwesi Nyantakyi, the former GFA chief executive, was due to participate in the gathering that will culminate in the voting process. His 90-day probation and Fifa ban however disqualified him.

A team of three officials was billed to represent the GFA at the event in his absence, only for the Ghana government to deny the team consent to represent the nation.

Fifa will decide who hosts the 2026 World Cup in a global vote by members on June 13.

On hold

In yet another twist to the saga, the GFA has said that all officials shown in the Anas documentary on football corruption are to step aside from their roles and all football-related activities with immediate effect.

A statement signed by Isaac Addo, GFA general secretary, said the conduct of the officials has been referred to the GFA ethics committee, chaired by COP Kofi Boakye. It added that the GFA will not interfere in the work of the ethics committee and will embrace any decision that it may take.

According to the statement, the referees appointments committee has been dissolved and all GFA competitions have been put on hold.

On June 5 the Ministry of Information announced that in the light of the widespread alleged rot involving top GFA officials, match commissioners, administrators and referees, the government had decided to take immediate steps to have the GFA dissolved.

The government will announce provisional measures to govern football in Ghana until a new body is put in place, the ministry said.

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

Swift action

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 Minister of Information, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said.

He reassured the public that the government would see to it that reforms “are urgently undertaken to sanitise football administration in the country”.

The announcement, he hoped, will come as good news to many Ghanaians who have demanded swift action leading to reform at the GFA and moves that will ensure the government has tighter 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," the minister said.

After the revelations in Anas’s “Number 12”, a Daily Statesman sampling of a cross-section of Ghanaians showed that they want to see an end to the present situation in which the GFA operates without being accountable to any external authority.

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, with 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 according to the law, and “those who are clean” made to carry on working.