Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Ghana Football Association Must Retrieve All The US$15,000 Per Person Ex Gratia Payments Recently Made To Some Of Its Members

The State, through the Registrar General's Department, grants the status of company limited by guarantee for use as a special purpose vehicle, to enable sincere and capable individuals  to engage in charitable activities, which will benefit society generally - without risking their personal wealth in the process.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA), was granted the status of a company limited by guarantee,  to enable those who run it to organise the game of soccer in such a manner that it will be accessible to and benefit all lovers of the game in Ghana - at both the amateur and professional levels: as players; match officials; club technical team members; club members and supporters; club owners; etc., etc.

Although some might say it is a moot point, it could be successfully argued that with the exception of the GFA's paid employees, none of its members, who after all volunteer their services freely to the GFA - presumably because of their love and passion  for the game - are supposed to benefit substantially, financially, from the GFA's funds.

At best, they are only entitled to sitting allowances for attending GFA meetings, and to per diems when travelling locally and abroad on the GFA's behalf, like the members of  similar voluntary organisations across the globe,  are.

It matters not a whit where those GFA funds originate from: be they from the government of Ghana; Fifa; sponsorship deals; or,  "the GFA's own internally generated funds" - a cynical phrase deployed by the morally bankrupt individuals amongst those now running the GFA, to justify the blatant siphoning off GFA funds into private pockets, which they deviously labelled  "ex gratia payments" to deceive Ghanaians.

The question is: can the GFA, a company limited by guarantee to develop and promote the game of soccer nationwide - and therefore an entity that ought to have an element of the public interest ethos underpinning all its disbursement of funds - lawfully distribute its "internally generated funds" to the tune of some US$15,000 per person, to a number of its members as "ex gratia payments" totalling US$300,000; instead of using it to develop and promote  the game of soccer across Ghana, as it is mandated to, by law?

I submit that any charitable organisation - such as one set up to run an orphanage for example - that distributes its internally generated funds as ex gratia payments to any of its retiring members instead of using it for the benefit of the children in the orphanage, would have its charitable status swiftly withdrawn: and all those who distributed and benefited from the sharing out of any such internally generated funds prosecuted and jailed for fraud.

So should it be the case with the GFA, too. The GFA, surprising though it might be to some of its smug and more arrogant members, is not actually above the laws of our country.

Those ex gratia payments amount to making disloyal payments - a crime elsewhere: which is why the Swiss police investigating Fifa are also focusing on all such payments made by Fifa.

That is why those who now run  the GFA had better retrieve the US$15,000 per person ex gratia payments paid out to a number of its members from the GFA's internally generated funds  - and apply the total amount of US$330,000 involved to the development of youth soccer instead: perhaps in  junior and senior level secondary schools across Ghana, for example.

If they refuse to retrieve those unlawfully paid out sums one hopes that some of the GFA's many critics will approach public interest law NGOs (such as the Centre for Public Interest Law) to take the GFA to court - for misusing money that should be used to develop and promote soccer in Ghana: by doling it out as ex gratia payments to some of its members. Monstrous.

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