11 June 2018

Ghana: Where Do We Go From Here

opinion

BARELY a week ago, Ghanaians had the opportunity to have an insight into the behind the scene preparations undertaken by persons mandated to officiate football matches at our various stadia across the country in Anas Aremeyaw Anas' latest piece, Number 12.

Though the expose may not be the first in the annals of the game in the world, it is a big blot on the country's much cherished and highly respected football image. The damage caused the beautiful game, the passion of the nation is, however, not irredeemable.

The two-hour secretly recorded video by the internationally acclaimed Ghanaian investigative journalist, in collaboration with global broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation featured dozens of referees and other match officials taking 'bribes' from Anas' Tiger Eye PI team to determine match results even before the games kicked off.

Other administrators at the helm of sports both at the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the National Sports Authority (NSA) were also seen in the video negotiating with the investigators on who and who should be called into the various national teams.

The big part of the documentary was when the then head of Ghana football, Kwesi Nyantakyi, apart from fronting for bribes on behalf of the President of the Republic, his Vice and some high ranking government officials, was seen negotiating sponsorship deal in which his yet to be established company would benefit 20 per cent of the contract sum.

After watching the video which received massive hype ahead of its premiering, Ghanaians were naturally outraged at the behaviour of those caught in the scenes on the tape as they expressed anger and fury at the officials who toyed with their emotions by their conducts.

In the aftermath of the premiering, steps, according to government, are being taken to clear the supposed rot at the GFA but much has not been heard about the NSA. Among some of the actions taken to purge the FA is to dissolve it. A statement signed by the Information Minister, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid suspended all GFA sanctioned activities whiles government explores options to dissolve the association.

In the wake of the scandal, world football governing body, the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has given the embattled Kwesi Nyantakyi a 90-day ban which could be extended by 45 more days if the probe is not completed within those 90 days.

The man at the centre of the scandal himself has tendered in his resignation so has his 'right hand man' Abdulai Abu but the conversation must not end there though the Ghana Police Service has officially opened investigations into the operations of the GFA.

In as much as we welcome any investigations into the operations of the GFA, we urge authorities to consider doing same on the NSA, the umbrella organisation of all sporting associations in the country.

Fortunately for us as a country, this is not the first work done by Anas and his team but much has not been done to purge the institutions he has investigated in the past which include the judiciary, the Ghana Police Service, operations at the port and how our hard earned cocoa is smuggled to neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire among other headline-grabbing undercover works.

The Ghanaian Times is of the view that sentiments and emotions of the Ghanaian people should not overshadow or dictate the work of the investigators commissioned to get to the bottom of this scandal which has huge ramifications on the country.

In order to restore the battered reputation of the country, at least at the footballing level, it is important investigators ensured this piece by Anas and his team does not end like his previous works which have not received the needed attention.

In no time, the senior national team, the Black Stars will be representing us on the international stage as the qualifiers for the 2019 African Cup of Nations approaches.

We use this opportunity to call on the citizenry to be circumspect in their comments on the matter and desist from condemning only Kwesi Nyantakyi and all those seen in compromising situations in the video since they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Ghana

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