GFA prez should stop ranting and contest the FIFA presidency!
News about Sepp Blatter’s decision to resign as President of FIFA spread through local and international newswires on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, like wild fire ravaging a thick forest in the peak of the harmattan. Notwithstanding the myriad corruption allegations which had been levelled against some top officials within his outfit, many in the football fraternity least expected the 79-year-old to arrive at such a decision having been re-elected four days earlier to steer the affairs of world football for another four-year term.
Perhaps one person who is still reeling from the shock is the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Kwesi Nyantakyi. He seems to have been taken aback by the news and has gone to town proffering all sorts of explanations on what could have led Blatter to step aside the seat he has held since 1998. Indeed, among the reasons opined by Nyantakyi, which has actually set the tone for my fingers to dance Kpalongo on my keyboard, is his claim that the US government is scheming to hurt FIFA’s image by initiating investigations into the alleged acts of corruption against those FIFA executives, including Blatter himself. Really?
There is no gainsaying that Sepp Blatter has done a lot for African football, and indeed Ghanaian football, and I am sure a certain Thomas wouldn’t even dare doubt this. His initiative to increase the continent’s World Cup slots, the FIFA Goal Project, and South Africa winning the bid to host the World Cup for the first time on the continent are some of his achievements, for the benefit of those who descended from Pluto last night. Therefore, one cannot begrudge Nyantakyi when he rightly points out that Blatter’s exit could greatly affect the African cause.
That said, I would stare in bewilderment if Blatter leaves his seat without any concrete reforms to ensure whoever succeeds him continues some of his good initiatives. For crying out loud, although one cannot discount the impact Blatter has made on world football, he is certainly not the Alpha and Omega of the association. FIFA has a 25-member Executive Committee which meets to deliberate on matters before decisions are made, and so the exit of one man cannot bespeak a sudden development of an anti-Africa syndrome. But, should fears about African football suffering at the expense of other federations materialise, then it would be a telling proof that Blatter really outlived his effectiveness as president of the association. He certainly can’t leave without a roadmap to guide his successor!
Thus, I find Nyantakyi’s decision to blame the US government for the woes of FIFA as extremely untenable and a knee-jerk move to water down the corruption allegations hanging like an albatross on the neck of the world football gurus. Also, I see Nyantakyi’s claim as a diplomatic blunder that could soil relationships between the GFA and the US government if he fails to back it with facts. Even if his claim is anything to go by, I don’t think the fact that the US government decided to wait on the eve of the FIFA Congress to effect arrests of those officials speaks volumes of the government’s intention to tar FIFA officials - including Nyantakyi - with the corruption brush.
So it is very surprising that Nyantakyi, a distinguished lawyer, would rather stampede a legal process underway to establish the culpability or otherwise of those officials as regards the corruption allegations with such a conjecture. I don’t think it was the US government that impressed upon those officials to engage in those alleged acts of corruption in the first place. But if the GFA capo is privy to any information to the contrary, then it behoves him to let all Ghanaians, and indeed the world, in on those facts and spare us the baseless allegations!
However, if Nyantakyi’s claims are only arising out of his fear of the possible disadvantages Blatter’s exit could cause African football, then I think he should step up to the plate and avail himself of the opportunity to contest the FIFA presidency. Having manned affairs at the GFA for a decade now, and served on various committees at CAF and FIFA, he definitely has garnered a lot of experience and has a lot up his sleeves to offer the world football governing body if he decides to contest.
It is time Africa took hold of its destiny and made its voice count at the world football governing body, and I have no doubt in Nyantakyi’s ability to achieve this feat for the continent. Surely, he can ride on the support of the rest of Africa and compete for the seat; even if he doesn’t win, some of his ideas may be taken on board by the eventual winner to promote football on the African continent!
By: Richard Amoako Ansong
(The writer is a public relations and communications professional)