The EOCO siege on Ghana football

The altercation between the Government of Ghana, or agents claiming to represent the interest of the John Evans Atta Mills administration, and the Ghana Football Association (GFA), for which the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) was let loose on the football controlling body, appears to know no end.

As our front page story indicates, the EOCO has descended on corporate bodies sponsoring football as an organised sport in this country. It is certainly the best means of aiding the growth of the game that made Ghana stand out at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Strangely, people who should know better are burying their heads in the sand like the traditional ostrich, and claiming that the EOCO is performing its statutory functions without Government prompting. The Chronicle does not buy into this assertion.

There is a clear case of officialdom using its might to bully those running the game on behalf of the state into submission.  It is a very unfortunate development indeed.

This paper will like to submit that it is this altercation that brought Akua Sena Dansua to the Sports Ministry, with the brief to deal with the obstinacy of those promoting the game on our behalf.

When the Minister assumed office and realised that officials of the football association meant no harm, she was seen as a hindrance. We need no ghost to explain away why she is no more holding the sports portfolio.

We are not enthused about this development. We are even more alarmed at the EOCO’s pursuit of corporate bodies sponsoring various aspects of the activities of the Ghana Football Association, because it has the tendency to get many corporate bodies off the sponsorship of the game, which is one of the main reasons why Ghana football is flying so high.

When EOCO seized nine computers and every available file at GFA House in that early morning swoop, the activities undermined football development in the country.  It sent the wrong signals to corporate bodies doing business with the FA.

As our front page story indicates, by asking sponsors of the major aspects of our game to account for their dealings with the FA, the EOCO is virtually driving sponsors away from our game.

Sponsorship has played a key role in getting Ghana soccer to impress at the World Cup. Now, the Ghana Football Association could organise major activities without recourse to the public purse.

The payment of the coach of the Black Stars, for instance, has gone a long way towards the acquisition of a competent coach to handle the national team.

The Chronicle is disappointed in the latest development, which could be interpreted as a means of undermining the GFA. When the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) wrote on November 29 on Government-GFA relations, the world football controlling body made a clear distinction between monies that were open to investigations by state institutions, and those the state had no mandate to investigate.

The government has a right to demand accountability from the FA, in respect of monies advanced to it by the state, and in respect of expenditure on the eight national teams. When the FA seeks its own sponsorship, state institutions have no business wanting to know how.

Sponsorship deals from Guinness, Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Voltic, etc, are entirely private. Unless the government of the day deliberately wants to undermine those running football on behalf of the state, the Atta Mills government has a duty to call the EOCO to order!

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