How do you judge a football president’s success? Is it by the standard of the local leagues? Is it by the success of the various national teams? Is it by the success of the women’s game or by the development of juvenile football?
Here, SPORTSWORLDGHANA dig deeper into Kurt’s first term as Ghana’s Football Association president.
Before his appointment:
Kwasi Nyantakyi was the Ghana Football Association president from 30th December 2005 to 7th June 2018 after succeeding Dr.Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe. He officially resigned on 8th June 2018 after FIFA had already banned him for 90 days pending investigations.
Nyantakyi resigned because Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an investigative journalist released a video which found him taking bribes and bragging about even having the president and the whole nation in his pocket.
FIFA officially banned Kwasi Nyantakyi from all football-related activities. It was later reduced to 15 years in October 2020 after reconsideration by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Ghana’s football was run by the Normalisation Committee for one year before a general election was conducted for president.
How Kurt won the first term.
At the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra on 25th October 2019, his main competitor, George Afriyie conceded defeat to him after 2 rounds of voting in which any candidate failed to poll 61 votes representing the needed 50+1% required for an outright triumph. Candidates were: Kurt Okraku, George Afriyie, Nana Yaw Amponsah, Fred Pappoe, Amanda Clinton and George Ankomah.
However, with the voting ongoing, George Afriyie pleaded with the attention of the congregation and declared frankly his decision to concede defeat.
Hence, Kurt Okraku won.
His appointment and promises.
Kurt Edwin Simon Okraku, 52, a.k.a the game changer is a formal sports journalist and past Executive Chairman of Dreams FC.
He became the first president of the Ghana Football Association exactly 4 years ago today after the Anas exposay.
He made so many promises including; rebuilding trust and restoring the image and reputation of the GFA, enhancing the infrastructural base of clubs – and at the youth level – and employing the best management practices possible in running the football association.
The state of our football now.
THE BLACK STARS
Ghana missed the Russia 2018 World Cup and immediately bounced back to the world stage by securing a place among the best in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
This by far is Kurt’s biggest achievement as the president of Ghanaian football.
The senior national team qualified for the first AFCON in Kurt’s era in 2021. Ghana finished bottom of the table with a calamitous defeat against lowly-ranked Comoros. Black Stars will play in Cote d’Ivoire for the 2023 AFCON, which will be Kurt Okraku’s second AFCON as GFA president.
The country still awaits its first appearance at the Olympic Games since the 2004 appearance in Athens which featured the likes of Stephen Appiah, the Gyan brothers, Charles Taylor, Yussif Chibsah, William Tiero, Daniel Coleman etc.
Ghana exited the 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers group stages hosted by Morocco with an embarrassing 5-1 defeat against the host in MD2 after opening their campaign with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Congo. The Black Meteors ended the competition with a 1-1 draw vs Guinea.
This result subsequently eliminated the U23 team which means the 2-decade wait continues for another Olympic Games appearance.
The Black Satellites and Starlets
The Black Satellites(U20) won the 16th edition of the African Youth Championship hosted by Mauritania in 2021. Ghana defeated Uganda 2-0 in the finals with stars like Afriyie Barnieh, Abdul Fatau Issahaku, Ibrahim Danlad and Percious Boah.
In the 2023 edition, Black Satellites failed to secure a crucial win in their final group game in the WAFU Zone B edition vs Cote d’Ivoire. Hence, Ghana did not participate in the final tournament in Egypt where the top 3 teams had tickets to qualify for the World Cup in Argentina.
The Black Starlets
The only major tournament that has taken place during Kurt’s era is the 2023 U-17 AFCON hosted by Algeria and won by Senegal. Ghana failed to qualify for the WAFU Zone B after losing 1-0 to Burkina Faso in the Semi-finals.
The Black Queens are on fire under the management of former Swiss footballer, Nora Huptlen. The Black Queens are in the form of their lives; winning their last 8 games, scoring 29 goals and conceding 0.
They are on course to qualify for the Paris 2024 and yesterday won 3-0 vs Benin with a goal from Doris Boaduwaa and a brace from Gifty Assifua.
The Black Queens failed to qualify for the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco after losing 2-1 on aggregate to Nigeria in the semi-finals of the qualifiers.
Ghana Women U-20 and U-17
The Black Princess qualified for the 6th consecutive FIFA World Cup in 2022 which was played in Costa Rica. Ghana lost all 3 group-stage games; USA 3-0, Japan 2-0, Netherlands 4-1.
The maiden edition of the WAFU Zone B U-20 Women’s Cup was hosted in Kumasi and won by the Black Princess by beating Nigeria 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
The Black maidens did not qualify for the U17 FIFA World Cup in India after losing 4-2 on penalties to Morocco in the fourth and final round of the qualifiers.
Ghana won 2-0 in the first leg, lost 2-0 in the second leg and got eliminated through a penalty shoot-out.
Much improvement has not been seen in our club football. 2023 has been our best year under Kurt’s administration because Meadeama and Dreams are participating in the money zone of the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup.
Money and infrastructure remain the biggest problems of our club football. Hooliganism has not been dealt with properly, and betting issues still surround our league especially from Week 26 of every season since we started playing the 18-teams league.
Massive improvements have been seen in the women’s game since Kurt was sworn in as Ghana Football’s president.
The 2023 Women’s Champions League is two weeks away from kickoff in Ivory Coast and Ampem Darkoa Ladies F.C. will be determined to make the nation proud. They are in Group B with defending Champions AS FAR of Morocco, Huracanes of Equatorial Guinea and AS Mande of Mali.
In the maiden edition which was held in Cairo in 2021, Mamelodi Sundowns defeated Hassacas Ladies by 2-0 in the finals with Evelyn Badu finishing as the top scorer with 5 goals and also the best player of the tournament.
Our women’s game has been incredible under Kurt’s administration.
Rating: 7 /10
Nothing at all has been seen regarding the infrastructure of our football venues. The story remains the same with poor pitches and poor venues being used for our league games.FIFA and CAF are struggling to accept any of our venues as standard ones for their organized competitions.
Kurt promised to make sure that the local league players are well-paid at the end of every month but some of the teams can go as long as 3 months without paying the players. Some players receive below 1,000 cedis per month.
The GFA and the betting company, Betpawa signed a three-year deal worth $6M over the period.
President Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku stated some of the initiatives that come with the sponsorship.
‘’We just signed an agreement with betPawa for an initial period of three years.betPawa are investing a minimum of $6M over the period’’ President Simeon-Okraku said.
‘’From this money, we shall see the construction of a new pitch at the Ghanaian Soccer Centre of Excellence that will be called the betPawa pitch”.
‘’From this deal, we are introducing a scheme called the Locker Room Bonuses. Here, all 30 or 40 players and the technical team of each winning team will receive bonuses immediately at the end of every game’’.
“Furthermore, part of the money would be invested in advertising, marketing and promotion of the GFA, betPawa relationship’’ he added.
These were his words. Has he fulfilled them as promised?
Medeama received just 300,000 cedis as prize money for winning the 2022/2023 Ghana Premier League.
The winner for the 2023/2024 season will pocket 500,000 Cedis which is more than a 70% increase from last season’s. This is a very small amount for a league winner considering the financial investments of owners.
Much was expected from this administration in terms of Colts and youth football. What has happened to the “Catch Them Young Referee Project”? Juvenile football needs massive attention per what I observed at Ejisu-Krapa M/A Park every weekend in 2021. Kudos to them for this opportunity given to the young ones.
Many football academies are needed in the country and Kurt’s second term must do something about it.
Ashgold and Inter Allies have suffered immensely for their involvement in betting scandals of our league but that must not be the end because most of the clubs have been betting on their games when the season is coming to an end. This administration must be vigilant and deal with them like they did to Ashgold.
Hooligans are still causing havoc to referees, many officials and infrastructure. Incidents in Tamale, Dormaa and Dr Kwame Kyei’s Sports Complex, just to mention a few, put fear in officials, footballers and fans. Kurt’s administration has been soft with culprits and must deal drastically with anyone who will cause trouble at any venue.
70% of football fans in Ghana have criticised Ghanaian officials harshly. They feel their performance is deliberate hence the FA must do whatever is within their power to improve their performance. Daniel Laryea under Kurt’s administration has officiated in CAF Champions League, AFCON and Ghana Premier League.
The FA has given out harsh punishments to some referees just to serve as a deterrent to others.
Kurt Okraku’s four years in charge of our football have not been great per his promises and expectations from the football fraternity. Any leader who goes unopposed in any election is either power-drunk or doing extremely well that everyone wants him to continue.
The next 4 years must give Ghanaians massive joy in football. The game changer as he is popularly known, has the potential to change our game. We can’t wait to see his administration changing our favourite sport, football.