Ghana Football handed a golden chance to clean house
Growing up, I was always fascinated by the myth of the phoenix. The bird would usually live its life and at the end of the cycle, it would go up in flames and then, regenerate for a new life.
The concept always lingered in my mind but it was given a sudden jolt of life as I sat in the top row of the Accra International Conference Centre watching the tape of Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ expose.
The tape showed various actors in our local football space engaged in activities that were allegedly corrupt and very wrong in terms of the laws of the game and the nation.
League matches reportedly determined by the exchange of a few thousands of cedis. In some cases, hundreds.
Top of the list was the controversial 1-0 victory for Hearts of Oak versus Asante Kotoko in 2017 which was essentially settled by a penalty decision from referee Samuel Sukah.
Sukah, his assistants and the match commissioner were seen on tape seemingly taking amounts from undercover reporters.
Many other matches were reportedly fixed that way and some of the results were very recognisable like the 2-1 Hearts of Oak home win over WAFA in 2017.
I saw that game and it was hurting as my mind made the drive backwards into time to the Accra Sports Stadium.
I enjoyed that tie but knowing that the men assigned to ensure that everything was tidy had actually soiled their minds, hearts and consciences after taking monies from undercover reporters.
League matches were not the only areas where poor behaviour was exhibited.
Officials who were either in charge of or close to the national teams seemed very interested in gaining some more finances to give slots to players who would otherwise make the grade anyway.
Looking at Eddie Doku, Greater Accra Regional FA boss and Robert Sarfo Mensah, the now-suspended Director General of the National Sports Authority, stuff their pockets and drawers of thousands of cedis, got me sad, angry and surprised in one package.
Of course, they will have to offer a response because it is their right as per our democracy and its tenets.
The biggest highlight was undoubtedly the shenanigans of the GFA boss, Kwesi Nyantakyi.
His alleged dalliance with the businessmen who wanted to sponsor the league;
His alleged comments on forming a company to act as the intermediary;
His alleged comments on getting a 5 per cent cut of the package;
His alleged relationship with the President of Ghana, Nana Akuffo Addo, and how easily he could get his way at the Presidency for his purported plans of “taking over this country.”
These left me with different questions ranging from the man’s super confidence to say such things to the image of my country and the machinery that runs it.
The sports reporter in me was the most affected persona after watching the tape.
How do I believe anything going forward?
How will I perceive match results and match officials whenever I watch proceedings in the Zylofon Cash Premier League?
How much more of these alleged unscrupulous acts have happened, are happening and will happen?
What will the Ghana Football Association do next?
What happens to Kwesi Nyantakyi?
Some believe he may get his day and result in the court of law but there is a general consensus that in the court of public opinion where integrity, self-respect and opinion count for a lot, he may get something similar to Hearts of Oak’s 5-0 loss at WAFA.
Oddly enough, that game was one of the many that referees were allegedly paid to fix. The undercover reporters wanted a result for Hearts but we all know how that one ended.
But the greater concern should be the association itself. It has to dip itself in the footballing equivalent of the River Jordan for cleansing and it must proceed to put its house in complete order.
The government’s decision to take steps to dissolve the FA could be the beginning of the cleaning process but it may amount to zero if there is no change in character of the stakeholders.
Rebuilding with old parts and fittings will only send the structure back to its former state.
There should be respect for the law and the willingness to look at what is wrong and walk away from it.
If personal belief systems are faulty, football people should at least remember that the regulations set out by their mother body, FIFA, calls on them to behave well.
And if they truly love the game, they should be able to adhere to the rules.
That gong needs to sound in their souls perpetually.
Anas’ tape may have revealed a lot and the FA may be feeling the heat from fans and all other interested parties but the members must see this as a wonderful time to look at the fork in the road and take the turn towards a better image.
They are now at their own phoenix moment.
They will have to die in the flames of a very imminent dissolution from the government, a very possible ban from FIFA and the bashing from football fans.
But they will have to rise again from the ashes to live through a cycle which should be one of success.
And while they are it, they can listen to the Gabrielle song “Rise”.
It is great therapy for a heartbreak.