Sports Features Tue, 11 Jun 2019
I vividly recall that distress statement made by Black Stars coach, Kwesi Appiah, when he appeared before the Dzamefe Commission virtually in tears in 2014.
When asked by the three commissioners: Justice Senyo Dzamefe (currently a justice at the Court of Appeal), Mr Moses Foh-Amoaning and Mr Kofi Anokye, to narrate his ordeal as the head coach of the Black Stars during Ghana’s chaotic FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil, one of the things Kwesi
Appiah complained about was that there were too many people around the senior national team.
Five years on, the same coach is back in the saddle as the Black Stars attempt to annex the nation’s fifth Africa Nations Cup title in Egypt. But the big question is whether that particular concern expressed by the coach then has been addressed?
The signals I’m picking from the team’s training camp in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seems to be on the contrary. From the way things are going, my fear is that Ghana might send the biggest contingent ever to the 2019 AFCON.
The ‘Year of Return’ agenda set by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo seems to be driving so much traffic that if funds are not properly managed, the nation might end up investing a fortune into one AFCON she is bent on winning. Maybe, that is the reason why officialdom has remained tight-lipped on the tournament budget till now. Anyway, I believe it takes more than money to win an AFCON.
My point is that, there must be a check on the spending spree that has already begun all in the name of winning the AFCON before things get out of hand. Not to sound like a prophet of doom, I must say that the disaster which could break out should the team fail to win the trophy might surpass that of Brazil 2014. We don’t seem to learn as a nation.
Had the recommendations of the Dzamefe Commission been adhered to, some of the mistakes which are being repeated would have been avoided. The Commission’s report was quite comprehensive and covered such sensitive areas like winning bonus, appearance fee, captaincy and so on, which the Government White Paper equally endorsed.
That same attitude, unfortunately, seems to be playing out in the organisation of our local game. One year on after Anas’ investigation of corruption in Ghana Football, things appears to be the same, if not worse, even though we are in a normalisation period.
As some referees and other officials were caught on camera collecting bribe to influence the outcome of matches, the script is no different today. Some clubs, if not all, are back in the dirty old game of manipulating match results with the connivance of some incorrigible match officials in the ongoing Normalisation Special Competition. As I write, there is a serious bribery case involving three Tamale-based referees pending before the GFA Disciplinary Committee.
As for crowd violence, the least said about it the better. Within this short period, supporters of some clubs have excelled in attacking referees at will, including the shameful assault of a lady FIFA referee, Theresa Bremansu, by some misguided Prison officers in Sunyani. Worst of all, a management member of Asante Kotoko, Dr Yaw Amo Sarpong, pulled a gun during a melee at the Berekum Golden City Park and had to be banned for six months for that reckless act.
Things have simply fallen apart on the local soccer front, the normalisation process notwithstanding. The reason is simply that our clubs are not ready to adjust to the wind of change that has been blowing in the past 12 months.
The latest in the weekly order of the soccer brouhaha is the crossfire between the GFA and Kotoko over the venue and share of gate proceeds in their contentious Tier I semi-final against Hearts of Oak on June 16. However, Kotoko, who felt slighted by the GFA in the course of the deliberations, have since withdrawn from the match, pending the response of the NC on its return from the FIFA Congress in France.
If indeed the Anas project was targeted at crucifying one personality called Kwesi Nyantakyi, then the current state of Ghana Football seems to be making a hero out of him. We are where we are today also because the GFA could not address the issues on the ground first before FIFA ushered the association into the normalisation phase.
As things stand now, the only way Ghana Football can make any headway is when the new president and his executive take office. But the drama which promises to precede the GFA elections is what I cant wait to witness.
Those who are clueless can pick a leaf from the confusion which erupted in the Black Stars camp last week over who should be the team’s spokesman. More anon.