Sometime last year, we used this very column to express our dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Accra Sports Stadium and other stadia owned by the State were being managed by the National Sports Authority (NSA).
In the case under review, the NSA had rented out the Accra Sports Stadium for entertainment purposes, which rendered the playing field virtually impossible to play football matches on.
This decision to rent out the stadium was taken at the time the Ghana Premier League was still ongoing. In fact, Accra Hearts of Oak, which was to use the stadium to host one of the home league matches, was asked to look elsewhere, because it would not be available.
Despite the public outcry over the use of the stadium for non-core purposes, the NSA is still adamant. Pictures currently circulating on social media indicate that the grass at the Accra Sports Stadium has, once again, become severely damaged, after being used to host a musical concert.
As we indicated last year, one would have expected the NSA, under normal circumstances, to cover the pitch with tarpaulin to prevent the natural grass from being destroyed.
But this did not happen, as a giant performing stage was mounted on the playing field, with revellers allowed onto the pitch to dance to the tune of music being sung by their favourite artistes.
Interestingly, an NSA official is being quoted on social media as saying that they (officials) had technical eyes and do not see anything wrong with the current state of the playing field.
The Chronicle finds this arrogant posture of the said official very disturbing, because we have all seen the current state of the pitch, and it is nothing good to write home about.
All the stadia we have in this country were constructed purposely for sporting activities, especially football and athletics. Unfortunately, the Accra Sports Stadium now hosts only football matches, as the expansion in 2008 had the tartan tracks removed to create more space for the works.
No one can convince The Chronicle that the stadium was also built to host entertainment events, as we are seeing in recent years, with the concomitant destruction of the pitch, which has to be re-grassed at great cost to the taxpayer.
The Government of Ghana, in her own wisdom, decided to build the National Theatre to host all entertainment events in the national capital. Why officials have neglected this edifice and shifting their attention to the stadium is a mystery.
There are also some venues like the Accra International Conference Centre, the Independence Square, the Dome, and the State Banquet Hall, which can host entertainment events.
It appears the Minister of Youth and Sports has directly or indirectly approved of this practice by the NSA, which is threatening the very foundation of our football.
If this is not the case, one would have expected the Minister to intervene by stopping the persistent destruction of the pitches in our various stadia.
Yes, in Europe, and other advanced countries, football clubs have their own stadia, but here in Ghana, a third world country, where these football clubs do not have the financial wherewithal to construct their own stadia, hence the use of national stadia to host football league matches.
The Chronicle does not think our national economy will still be resilient if football is taken out of it. Our footballers plying their trade abroad send millions of dollars every year into the economy.
These footballers, who are helping in sustaining our national economy, did not emerge from the moon – they were nurtured by the local clubs, which are using the national stadium to play their league matches.
This is the reason why The Chronicle is surprised that the Minister for Youth and Sports has not deemed it fit to rein in the NSA officials from destroying our football through the misuse of the Accra Sports Stadium and other stadia for commercial purposes.
If we, as a nation, have now recognised that the National Theatre, meant to host entertainment events, has outlived its usefulness, then we had better fence the Independence Square, which has a concrete floor, to host entertainment events that are commercially oriented, instead of the Accra Sports Stadium, which is gradually destroying the grass fields and our football.
Is it not a national shame that Ghana had to struggle to get a venue to host our last World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria, when a national edifice like the Accra Sports Stadium was sitting there? Rather ironically, the same Accra Sports Stadium, a few years ago, underwent massive renovation to the tune of GH¢2 million.
Why are FIFA and CAF refusing the usage of the stadium? The NSA has to give answers to these questions, but all what they are interested in is renting out the stadium for commercial purposes, instead of addressing the real issues.
We cannot fathom why the administrators of the Accra Stadium, in particular, take joy in using the taxpayers’ money to re-grass the playing field, and then the next moment they allow event organisers to destroy the same grass.
Is it that somebody is benefiting financially from this insensitive act at a time when the country’s economy is not in the best of shape? In any serious jurisdiction, people will be made to answer questions, and that is exactly what The Chronicle is expecting to happen.
We are simply joking with football management in this country.