Come each New Year, come new and positive resolutions. Everyone, in a spirit of enthusiasm and unwavering hope, pledges to make his/her new year better than the year before.
Some achieve their goals, others, not so much. The difference between those who usually fail and those who achieve these rather many New Year resolutions is most often passion and tenacity of purpose.
Those who truly plan and work hard often get to their destinations with a soothing feeling of accomplishment. Those who sleep and fail to plan on how to achieve their goals end the year with predictable failure and disappointment. It’s a New Year, and one may be wondering what the New Year resolutions of the Ghana Football association are. Dwight D.Eisenhower once said that “the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.
”’Integrity is an expensive virtue, an attribute which is rarer than the finest diamond in most African societies. Ghanaian football, once at the pinnacle of the African game, is in total disarray.
The Ghana Football Association, an organization which is responsible for the administration of organized football in the country is in a state of disorganization. The puzzling question, therefore, is how a disorganized organization can run organized football in a country with tremendous soccer history and potential like Ghana.
Just as in many spheres of life, from politics to education, Ghana has been a trailblazer on the African Continent in many walks of life, and the Ghana Football Association is as old as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) itself, having been founded in 1957, the same year as CAF.
Indeed, records show that the Gold Coast Football Association, the body responsible for organized football in the Gold Coast, which was succeeded by the Ghana Football Association, was one of the oldest football associations in Africa, having been founded in 1920. Again, records indicate that Cape Coast and Accra were the first colonial cities in sub-Saharan Africa to host formal leagues, with Accra Hearts of Oak winning the coveted Guggisberg shield in 1922. “The only source of knowledge is experience,” Albert Einstein once said.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest,” the great Confucius also put it. The Ghana Football Association, by sheer dint of experience, should be one of the most knowledgeable, and as such one of the most effective football associations on the African Continent.
An organisation, which has gone through all the transitional periods in the African game, must be a paragon of effectiveness and competence. Notwithstanding the unrivalled experience of the Ghana Football Association in sub-Saharan Africa as far as organized football is concerned, Ghana football is still plagued by fundamental challenges which can only be seen as an embarrassment for a football association with the worth of experience as the GFA. Corruption in Africa is legendary, and perhaps corruption in Ghana football is something to be expected anyway.
However, the real problem is not the undeniable fact of deep seated corruption in the Ghanaian game, but the apparent demonstration of indifference by the Ghana football association to thoroughly investigate and deal decisively with alleged cases of bribery, match fixing, and all forms of corruption. The posturing of the GFA as far as dealing with alleged cases of corruption is concerned only leaves one to believe that the hierarchy of the Football Association are perhaps themselves complicit and guilty of same.
Corruption has made the GFA managerially inept. “Produce the evidence” has been the anthem of the GFA whenever allegations of corruption are brought to the notice of the body. Corruption is not new to Ghana Football. Indeed as far back as 1997, according to Declan Hill, in his book The Fix-Soccer and Organized Crime, the Black Stars of Ghana were in cahoots with Asian gamblers for the purposes of fixing games, with Abukari Damba as the contact person.
Declan Hill also alleges that Ghana fixed matches in the 2004 Olympic games, to which Stephen Appiah, although not necessarily admitting to playing fixed games at the competition, admitted to receiving money and distributing it to other players. Hill also alleges that he was accurately told the score of the Brazil vs. Ghana game in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Isaac Tetteh, publicly blamed the relegation of his side, Purejoy Stars FC, few years back to corrupt practices by opposing club officials.
“I challenge you (the media) to dig deep and expose corruption affecting Ghana’s football. There is massive corruption in Ghana football and all hands must be on deck to eradicate that cankerworm. My humble plea is to the President, Minister of Youth and Sports, GFA President and the National Sports Authority to come together to fight corruption in Ghana football, else we will fail as a nation,” he said.
Tony Yeboah, a legend, and one of the most celebrated football icons in the country, has famously stated that he was left frustrated by referees who always demanded bribes from him, a situation which forced him to abandon his project as a football administrator in the country. Tony’s Yegola FC was dissolved after what he described as “incessant” demand for bribes from referees. “The incessant demand of bribes by referees to influence matches in my favour completely killed my spirit to invest in football,” said Tony in an interview with the Graphic Sports in Kumasi.
The posturing of the Ghana Football Association as regards allegations of bribery and corruption were recently criticized by the Court of Arbitration for Sports in the famous Tema Youth vs. Dreams FC case, a case which exposed the GFA’s judicial bodies as unreliable and irredeemably biased. The football calendar, which was synchronized with the European soccer calendar, is in disarray.
The date for the next league is unknown till date, the elite cup, which was introduced because the GFA was a defendant in a legal suit and as such couldn’t start the premier league, was suspended, and two years on, remains suspended, the league has no headline sponsor, no Ghanaian club has made it to the group stages of the CAF Champions league, despite the expansion of the competition, since Berekum Chelsea in 2012, division one clubs have bemoaned the whooping GHS30,000 they are expected to cough up to pay referees in the imminent season, referees are not paid well nor on time, clubs struggle to pay their players, and when they do, the sum is so meager that players cannot make a living from it, inter alia.
To put it in context, Ghana Football is in chaos, the GFA is disoriented, and clubs are the ultimate victims. Indeed club owners cannot absolve themselves from the mess; they are at the heart of the problem. Club administrators are complicit in the alleged cases of bribery and corruption; they are guilty of being silent on important matters, guilty of not holding the leadership of the GFA to account, and guilty of the mess in Ghana football presently.
However, despite the role club owners play in the many challenges of the local game, the biggest culprits are the leaders of the Ghana Football Association. The Ghana Football association must provide leadership, an effective leadership which will decisively deal with corruption and make it unattractive, a leadership with integrity, a leadership which will restore confidence in the judicial bodies of the GFA, leadership which will ensure discipline and a restoration of the football calendar, leadership which will ultimately help restore Ghanaian clubs to the African club map, leadership which will make the Ghanaian league attractive once more, leadership which will tap into the immeasurable experience of the GFA and make the body as effective as it is expected to be.
A New Year is upon us, and my fervent hope is that the Ghana Football Association’s resolution will be “Effective Leadership;” a resolution which would be pursued with proper planning, passion and a tenacity of purpose. The rot MUST stop. The corruption MUST stop.
The biases MUST stop, and the chaotic GFA must SIT UP and reorganize itself.
LONG LIVE GHANA FOOTBALL!!
By Bismark Oppong Korang