Sports Features of 2014-05-13

Poor officiating robbing the beauty of Ghana Soccer

Before I begin, I’d kindly like my readers to know that this is a firsthand account because I travelled all the way from Accra to Kumasi just to watch the game I am discussing here, thank you very much.

Date – Friday 28th April 2014, venue- Kumasi Baba Yara sports stadium, referee – FIFA referee Joseph Lamptey assisted on the lines by J.B Smith and Abdul Fatawu Zakari with Reginald Lathbridge as the fourth referee and Augustine Asante acting as the match commissioner in that zone three (3) epic division one playoff decisive match between Accra Great Olympics and Tema Youth that looked like a one-sided unbalanced affair.

It was clearly obvious that referee Lamptey and that far side assistant referee robbed Tema Youth of clear goal scoring opportunities, frustrating them throughout the entire match duration which eventually denied the Tema lads the opportunity of returning back into the Ghana Premier League a season after the club was relegated. Overall the performance of the referee and the assistants was very abysmal.

That match was totally decided by the referees and they have to bow their heads in shame. The attitude of some of them is bringing the image of Ghanaian referees into disrepute. I was totally ashamed to hear that Joseph Lamptey was a FIFA referee and I wonder how he got that badge. His performance on the day does not commensurate or merit even a class two referee.

Both Lamptey and that far side assistant referee got all balls into Olympics half as either offside or foul against the Tema Youth side. It worsened in the second half after Great Olympics took 2-1 lead. Their performance was greeted by chants, hoots and boos from majority of the spectators that filled the VIP area of the stadium. They chanted, booed and called for the Tema Youth team to walk off the pitch on several instances and when Winfred Osei Parma and some of the technical team walked unto the pitch after they felt they have had enough of too much cheating from the referee, all the spectators in the stadium at the time stood up to give the Tema lads a standing ovation and had urged them on to walk out.

On the second instance when all the Tema Youth players together with their technical bench walked off the field entirely into the dressing room every spectator in the stadium stood to applaud them. It was just awful to see our beautiful Ghanaian soccer getting destroyed by selfish and self -centered referees. It took King Faisal Babes Boss Alhaji Karim Grunsah to persuade the Tema Youth side to get back to the field of play.

It’s time we Ghanaian football loving fans stand against these selfish attitudes of some of these referees. They are totally disgracing and destroying our beautiful game.

But you see, sometime you cannot blame them too much when some of the so-called football administrators in Ghana comfortably sit at their home and offices to decide the outcomes of matches forgetting the huge financial burden on the club chairmen.

Some of these referees allegedly accept bribes from both side of teams but end up robbing one. I think it is time the Ghana Football Association and the Premier League Board take a critical look at this growing canker among our referees and come out with measures to curb it.

That is why it is always a delight to watch referees in the English premier league and to follow their league matches on weekly basis because the outcomes of the matches cannot be predicted in the EPL.

Kick off……………… Even the kickoff was without casualties for barely more than thirty minutes the match could not start just because there was no ambulance at the stadium before kickoff. Both players and the referees had to stand and endure this.

I think something is wrong somewhere with Ghana football. A situation where you see the Ghana Football Association shift all aatention to the Black Stars because they have a lot of sponsors and funds flowing here and there.

What I saw……………….. As I set off from Accra that faithful morning to Kumasi, there was only one thing on my mind: to watch a beautiful game and to see a true champion emerged. But it looked like an assisted champion rather emerged.

With due respect to Accra Great Olympics, a club I have supported in my early youthful days, they gave it a fair share of the game. All the two goals they scored were classic and superb and a right calls by the referees.

Tema Youth dominated play early in the first half resulting in a goal in the 18th minute and their own defensive style of play contributed to Olympics cancelling the lead late in the first half. In the second half the game was purely in the hands of the referees as they frustrated the Tema Youth team by whistling for offside on all clear goal scoring opportunities.

Intermittent stoppages and fouls in favour of Olympics. On one occasion when a Tema Youth player fell unconscious resulting from a bad tackle from an Olympics defender, referee Lamptey ignored it and waved on for play to continue. It took the Red Cross, the ambulance service and the team doctors almost close to about five minute to revive the player back to life. I think the referees for the game got it all wrong. The officiating was just too poor, horrible and terrible.

What the spectators said before and after the match…………. At about 2pm when I arrived at the stadium the only thing I was hearing from the spectators centered on how the referees were going to handle the match. Most of these fans predicted the referees would favour Olympics.

At end of the game there was only one voice ringing everywhere; hooting, booing and chanting of the typical “hoo hoo hoo” at the referees. You can hear them say “this is the reason why Ghanaian referees are not selected for major tournaments” which I agreed with them hundred percent. In Ghana, the outcome of most matches are in the hands of referees.

Winfred Osei Pama’s decision……….. But Pama’s decision to stage a walk out, in local parlance ‘Yen bo biom’ has affected the team’s chances of returning back into the First Capital Plus Premier League. On the two instances when the team walked off the pitch, there was almost about ten (10) minutes of stoppage.

In football everything is possible, even a second in a game is crucial. Pama could have ignored the call from the spectators to abandon the match and instead urge his boys to focus and fight on. After the team was persuaded by Alhaji Karim Gruzah and finally returned, they gave in their best and nearly equalized. That time they have wasted was eventually not added to the injury time and greatly contributed to their loss. I know its disheartening taking into consideration the huge amount spent on the team up to that stage.

Pama is one person known to have suffered raw ordeals in the hands of spectators and referees before; he knew it all and should have rather urged the boys to fight on. But one person I admired so much was the Tema Youth coach, Prince Owusu. He remained calm and prevented the players from walking off the pitch on all the occasions but Mr. Pama’s resistance forced the team to walk off. This is a true and a real football coach.

Congratulations Accra Great Olympics and welcome back into the Ghana Premier League but kindly be reminded that more difficult tasks await you next season. Olympics need to rejuvenate the entire team and change their style of play to survive in the league next season. I salute their lead striker Dotse Agbashie; he played a very pivotal role in seeing Olympics qualifiy back to the First Capital Plus Bank Ghana Premier League.

Let us all help to fight this canker of poor officiating by some of our referees in Ghana football to restore back the beauty of our game.