The Own Goal at Football House

Ghana Football Association
Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi
South East Ridge
Zurich, 29 November, 2010.

GFA relations with the Government of Ghana

Dear President,
It has come to our attention that the Ghana Football Association is currently facing difficulties in its relations with the Government of Ghana.

In particular, we have heard that the government has directed the appointment of government representatives on each of the national teams’ management committees. In addition, according to press reports and other sources, it appears that following the meeting between the President of Ghana, H.E. John Atta Mills, and the FIFA President, Mr. Joseph S. Blatter, which took place on 31st August 2010, the government tried to force the nomination of a Ghanaian candidate other than the candidate already chosen and announced by GFA to the election for the Executive Committee of CAF.

We appreciate the fact that the government has now realized that it was not competent to nominate candidates for elective functions within the football organizational structure. However we would like to kindly ask you to draw the attention of the government of the fact that GFA must manage its affairs independently and with no influence from third parties as stated in art. 17 par. 1 and art. 13 par. 1 (a) of the FIFA Statutes and the violations of such provisions might lead to sanctions as stated in the same art. 13 par. 2 and 3.

We would like to specify that during his meeting with the President of Ghana, the FIFA President only mentioned that the government of Ghana could audit the GFA accounts related to the attribution of public funds, i.e. government funds.

This of course excludes the funds coming from other sources, such as FIFA, CAF, or corporate sponsors.

GFA has been achieving outstanding results during the past few years on the continental and world football scene, both for its A team as well as for its youth teams.

This is a testimony of the great work GFA has been carrying out in favour of football development. Ghana is a shining example for Africa and for the world in this aspect.
It would be a real pity if these efforts were thwarted by misunderstanding from the government. For this reason we would like to encourage you to establish a good working relationship with your government in order to restore optimal conditions for football development.

Yours sincerely,

FEDEREATION INTERNATIONALE                                                                                                                            FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Jerôme Valcke                                                                                                                                                   Secretary General
Cc: CAF.

This letter is instructive by itself. Several aspersions have been cast on the authenticity of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) letter. There are some people who argue that the letter does not exist. Others contend that FIFA did not warn Ghana, and that the Ghana Football Association is making that up to strengthen its hands in its dealings with Government.

This column will like to believe that the publication of the letter puts the matter to rest.

Sad to state that barely one week after the letter was received in Accra, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), formerly the Serious Fraud Office, raided the offices of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) on Tuesday, and whisked away nine computers and several office files.

EOCO officials and those linked to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration are trying very hard to distinguish the act from government interference in football.

For me, as a sports journalist who has followed football all my life, I have every reason to believe that the so-called operation has the big hands of government written all over it. It started with President John Evans Atta Mills visiting FIFA House and returning home to hold a press conference at the Kotoka International Airport.

Koku Anyidoho, Director of Communications at the Presidency, announce d to the whole wide-world that Prof. Atta Mills sought, and got an undertaking from the President of the world governing body on football, the Federation Internationale de Football Association to conduct investigations into the GFA.

At that moment, I smelt a rat. From my experience as a sports journalist, there was no way FIFA could give a blank cheque to any government to investigate its football association.

To add to the confusion, barely one week after the Presidential press conference, the Ghana Football Association received the first in a series of summons from the former Serious Fraud Office, ordering the President of the GFA to appear before its investigative panel on Monday, September 13.

The documents the FA President was required to produce clearly indicated that the Serious Fraud Office was not looking for anything to do with Government money paid in respect of the eight national teams the FA manages on behalf of the state.

It was clear that the SFO had bought into wild allegations about monies received by the FA in respect of sponsorship monies.

As stated earlier, I have been in no doubt about the FIFA directive to national associations not to entertain government intrusion into any earnings, apart from what the state pays in respect of the eight national teams. That is the point I decided to write to FIFA for clarification on what Sepp Blatter actually told President Atta Mills.

From the response of FIFA, it is never true that FIFA asked the Government to throw the FA before the Serious Fraud Office. To me, as a national of this Republic, my worry is about the credibility of presidential pronouncements.

Here we are being briefed by presidential aides on something that really did not take place. I do not believe it is the first time that presidential briefings might not really be able to paint a true picture.  From my point of view, it should be a worrying sign to the presidency that all might not be well with communications at Government House.

Even more worrying is the circumstance under which the raid on the FA offices has brought football in the country to a standstill.  Yesterday, the FA called an emergency meeting to discuss the raid and its implications on Ghana football.

The first casualty of the raid is the Professional League. The programme has been suspended indefinitely. It is very likely that other programmes organised by the FA would also be hit.

I am told the Parliamentary Committee on Sports will discuss the commando raid in the House tomorrow. I urge both sides of the political divide to weigh the implications of the raid on the national game. Meanwhile, we are all bracing ourselves for a decision on the raid by FIFA.

What took place on Tuesday is akin to a footballer who had just attracted a yellow card for rough play. As soon as the game is resumed, that same player hacks down an opponent right in front of the referee.

As we wait on FIFA for the second time, I will like to offer the NDC administration and their agents needlessly bringing harm to our football free consultancy.

“Christmas,” as I told a radio station during the raid on the FA, “is around the corner. There are many homes out there which cannot afford the cost of chicken to feed the family.” The worst thing the administration of Prof. Do-Little could do is to bring harm to our national game. The passion of the nation deserves to be left in peace, not in pieces!

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