Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ghanaian Soccer Should Not Be Run Like A Sicilian Mafia Family's Fraudulent Scheme - Designed To Enrich Its members

According to an old wag I know,  organising the soccer league in Ghana, is akin to a conspiracy by greedy and corrupt individuals, to further their own interests. One wonders what the Ghana Football Association's (GFA) response to that would be.

Critics often point to the many curious decisions, made by disciplinary committees of the GFA, over the years, as evidence of the corrupt nature of officialdom in the Ghanaian soccer world.

It is often alleged in sections of the media, for example, that corrupt individuals amongst Ghanaian soccer's governing body's officials, achieve their nest-feathering-aims, by overseeing a league in which some club officials engage in match-fixing, and the bribing of soccer referees officiating football league matches, across the country.

In light of that, the idea that at all material times, those who supervise what elsewhere are regarded as crimes, think that by sheltering behind  an international soccer governing body, Fifa - which  is itself opaque in many ways and is run more or less like a Soviet-era Politburo - they can avoid being held to account in Ghana, is quite frankly ludicrous.

No one - individual or corporate entity - in Ghana, including even the President of the Republic, is above the law.

Naturally, since they do not take place in the open, claims of match-fixing and the bribing of soccer referees, are hard to prove.

Nonetheless, if those allegations are true, then it must be pointed out to Ghanaian soccer's governing body's officials, that match-fixing, and the bribing of soccer referees officiating soccer league matches in Ghana,  are indeed serious crimes.

Investigating such crimes cannot possibly be regarded as "interference" in their association's affairs, by the Ghanaian nation-state. With respect, any viewpoint to the contrary, is nonsensical.

And neither do demands that football officials account for all cash transfers sent to them by Fifa amount to "interference" in the GFA's affairs, by the Ghanaian nation-state. Soccer enthusiasts in Ghana have a right to know how cash transfers to the GFA from Fifa are actually disbursed. That is what audits of their finances are for.

Misappropriation of funds belonging to even private associations willy nilly constitute criminal conduct. Individuals guilty of it can be, and are routinely prosecuted, and jailed, in Ghana.

Ideally, those who run the GFA ought to be selfless individuals with a passion for the game, who work hard to unearth and nurture talented young people, who are then groomed into world-class soccer stars. Alas, sadly, that is not the situation prevailing in the Ghanaian soccer world of today.

Match-fixing and the bribing of referees officiating soccer matches, will never make for a competitive and widely-followed soccer league in our country. We are all witnesses to the situation that prevails today in the Ghanaian soccer world.

We are lumbered with a league of mediocre quality, supervised by individuals who lack the nous and gumption,  to create a super league with a crop of quality players that is competitive, and has a large and passionate following.

Yet, it is the quality of the local league, not the dazzling conquests in international soccer tournaments by foreign-based players for the  Black Stars, that ought to be the yardstick by which we measure the achievements (or lack thereof) of those who run the governing body of soccer in Ghana.

If we are to be ever successful in creating a world-class super leaque for the local game, Ghanaian soccer  ought not to be run like a Sicilian mafia family's fraudulent scheme designed to enrich its members.

(Finally, a simple test of their sincerity and commitment to transparency and accountability: Can the GFA give Ghanaians a full list of the names of all the recipients of the 30 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs recently 'donated' to the Black Stars by Tanink Motors? One asks because it involves the waiver of import duty on those vehicles - taxes that at the very least, could have been used to build a few classroom buildings,  in areas in rural Ghana currently lacking them.)

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