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Disbursement of COVID-19 fund - My Opinion

Thu, 16 Jul 2020 Source: Kwame Dwomoh

There has been mixed reviews following the release of the disbursement plan by the Ghana Football Association regarding the COVID-19 Funds.

Before I wage into this conversation, kindly find below the dictates of FIFA per the permissible use of the Funds and the disbursement plan.

PERMISSIBLE USE OF THE FUNDS

The relief plan has been established in order to alleviate distress caused by the impact of COVID-19. As such the funds made available with stage 3 of the Relief Plan should be used for relevant losses that have been incurred or expected to be incurred, as well as to address the needs that have risen or envisaged to be to arise as a result of COVID-19.

Areas in which funds provided within stage 3 can be used include, but are not limited to the following, provided they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

- The restart of competitions across all categories (where the sanitary situation and government policy permit)

- The implementation of return to play protocols

- The Participation of national teams in all age competitions

- The maintenance of football infrastructure, and

- The payment of general administration and operating costs

When there is reasonable doubt as to whether the intended use of funds is permissible, a request should be submitted in writing to FIFA in order to obtain approval.

In respect of the grants, and only where all COVID-19 related losses and needs have been addressed, any surplus finds may been invested in developmental projects. In respect of the loans, all funding drawn down is required to be directed towards COVID-19 related losses and needs.

USE OF FUNDS FOR RELIEFS OR STAKEHOLDERS WITHIN THE WIDER FOOTBALL COMMUNITY

Now where COVID-19 related losses and needs have been addressed, MA’s have the option of using the funds to mitigate needs of the wider football community, such as making payments to clubs or other stakeholders. Disbursements should ONLY be directed where the subsequent recipient has been clearly demonstrated to be in need, and the principles of transparency and non-discrimination should be applied. Where such disbursements to stakeholders within the wider football communities are made, MA’s (Mother Associations) are obliged to report these separately to their members via statutory audit and activity reports for the year in question, clearly indicating the recipients and related amounts. The approval of MA’s executive committee should be obtained and documented for such disbursements and this applies in respect of both grants and loans.

Any loans made to subsequent recipients need to be secured or collaterised accordingly. FIFA will offer guidance and assistance to these matters, including standardized forms and templates if needed.

The above reveals the permissible use of the funds and the disbursement plan. The funds are clearly stated. These funds have been made available to offset particular costs as a result of primarily, the challenges being faced by the football space, herein being the various elements, with greater emphasis on the clubs especially in our parts as the FA have consistently made it clear that expenditure on the various national teams are borne by the state. One would have thought that club football which was the hardest hit would have benefited immensely from this relief fund especially on the back of the huge expense in the running of football clubs in the country and as captured in the relief plan by the International football body with respect to the needs of the football space in Ghana.

Strikingly though, the League clubs only benefit to the tune of $880,000.00 representing less than 50% of the total funds, herein being $1,800,000.00. These are the direct stakeholders of the industry in any part of the world and to think that the local football controlling body would draw up plan for reliefs with the main stakeholders receiving less than half of the funds is incomprehensible to say the least.

We have been told in the past about how the expenses of the various national teams are borne by the state and how various governments have been lambasted for not honoring their part of the bargain with respect to the various national teams. Indeed, when the FA have incurred any costs of these teams, they are quick to send the payment vouchers to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, by extension government to be reimbursed. Now these national teams at this point are NOT

- Involved in ANY ongoing competition.

- Secondly when any cost is to be incurred as and when football makes a return, the cost would be borne by government

- Thirdly, the government has not complained at this point that it is in such distress for the FA to absorb any future cost in catering for the various national teams.

How then is a whooping $ 332,000.00(18% of the total funds) allocated to the various National teams and for what purpose?

Again, as we speak, there is NO local competition ongoing in this country. The FA in the last few weeks have defended strongly why the $ 500,000 from FIFA was purely for administrative and operational costs in the running of the FA’s activities. The same association following the CANCELLATION of the league have made it clear in their release concerning that cancellation, that all fines incurred by the clubs in the course of the league be paid, never mind all the records being expunged. The FA wants money for a league that has been cancelled and results expunged. That is a whole conversation for another day. The running of the football season was effected on December 29th, 2019 with a budget. The FA was even kind enough to go into their coffers to dole out some monies to the participating teams. Now with no competition ongoing, and with MTN funding the organization of the MTN FA Cup, I am at loss as to why a whooping $ 200,000.00 has been allocated for the competitions department. What craters has the department found themselves in these times of nothing to benefit from relief funds? The department if they need any form of support should be coming from the FA and all the funds accrued to them and not from relief funds to be honest.

I am also not aware of any active Beach Soccer or Futsal competitions (I stand to be corrected) currently ongoing in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana to benefit from a total of $30,000.00. My understanding is that this is for the future of these disciplines. Reliefs, again, as captured by FIFA in the permissible use of the funds is to alleviate the challenges in these times. These funds again should be coming from the already generated funds of the FA and/captured in their operational cost for the season.

The long list of Stakeholders to benefit from the Relief Fund is confusing, baffling, strange and incomprehensible.

PLAYER INSURANCE (@ $26,000)

Can the GFA be respectfully reminded that the responsibility of insuring players in the Ghanaian football space is to be effected by the clubs that they are affiliated to. Secondly the figure suggests that not all players in the country can benefit from a $26,000.00 package. If that is the case, is it going to be done on quota basis? Again in recent times, the FA released figures in excess of 50,000 falling into professional and dependents . How are they going to track all these lads to benefit from the package or will this be targeted only at the juveniles?

PFAG (@ 2,000.00)

What on earth is the body, a welfare body for over fifty thousand players in the country going to do with GHC 11,505.64? The more I look at the figure, the more laughable it gets. How does this figure pass for relief in these times? Our lads would probably get a few pesewas each to deal with their COVID issues. You must be laughing by now. I am laughing too.

MATCH COMMISSIONERS, VMO’S, REFEREES AND CAMERAMEN AND WOMEN

This group is benefiting to the tune of $144,000.00. The more I look at these categories, the more I feel like going for a refund from my business related lecturers in Senior High School, Undergraduate and Postgraduate school because I cannot for a moment understand how this would not have been captured as OPERATIONAL COST under the season that was just cancelled. How these groups are captured for relief support defies all the education I have had my whole life. Funds to cater for these groups were surely captured under these costs to be born by the FA in the absence of Relief Funds. These groups would have been taking care of in the discharge of their duties at the time they offered their service. Any logical reason why they deserve a penny from these funds?

MEDIA CAPACITY BUILDING-$7,000.00

Thank you for being so thoughtful GFA but the last time I checked my capacity building as a Media Person has been facilitated by the companies I have worked with. In Page 30 of President Okraku’s support for the media, he makes it very clear that the support for the media would be facilitated by the GFA. I don’t remember this exercise being done by the FA before COVID. That the FA has to depend on a Relief Package to build the capacity of the Media is most unfortunate. How the figure would even be enough to cater for the exercise of thousands of media personel in the football space would be earth shattering and mind blowing. I wait to be a part of this.

GHALCA (@ 2,000.00)

I feel sorry for GHALCA, the welfare body of the football space in the country. The once powerful body that had the high office of the Vice President of the Football Association appears not to be that relevant to the bosses at Ridge. What this body will do with $2,000.00 is anyone’s guess. Buy some stationary I guess.

I would reserve my comments on the figures allocated to coaching, SESSA and University Football Subscriptions. They only added to the numbers.

A gentle reminder of the word Relief in this COVID context is financial or practical assistance given to those in special need or difficulty, the redress of hardship and grievance or a cause or an occasion for relief.

The above carefully incapsulates the challenges of COVID and how some of the groups captured in the disbursement plan find themselves there is worrying. The major relief seekers are the CLUBS and they should directly benefit from a lot more of these funds purely on the back of their distress and not under 45% of the funds.

The power of every football association is derived from its franchises which are primarily executed by the clubs. How they are served with such funds is disappointing. I pray the FA has a look at this again and act accordingly.

The writer Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang is with the Sports Team at Imax Group (Max FM/Maximum FM/Max TV/StarTimes) and also serves as the Communications Director of Legon Cities Football Club.

Columnist: Kwame Dwomoh
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