The Ghana Football Association (GFA) recently demoted Ashgold FC and Inter Allies FC, from the Premier League and Division One, respectively to Division Two.
Both teams had played a fixed match, last year, whereby Ashgold won by seven goals to nil. I have no objection to the punishment meted out on the two clubs. After all, with international best practices, fixed matches are considered a felony and punishments could be harsh.
The most famous case in recent history was the Calciopoli scandal in Italy when it was discovered in May 2006, that Serie A clubs like Lazio, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Juventus were involved in some sophisticated form of match fixing. The first three teams on the list suffered playing home matches behind closed doors, points deducted and fines.Due its massive involvement in the scandal, Juventus,the most successful Serie A club was demoted to Serie B and with a 9-point deduction before the league started, and was stripped off its 2004 and 2005 Serie A titles.
Readers, please note. As soon as the Italian FA found out about this scandal, investigations were quickly conducted and the guilty clubs were punished before the coming in of the next season.
What I find unacceptable with the GFA, is that the Ashgold vs Inter Allies match took place on Saturday July 17, 2021, and yet it took the GFA ten months and into the end of another season to execute judgment and punish the clubs.
Natural justice demands prompt judgment, so Ashgold should not have been in the Premier league this season. And the joke of it all is that Ashgold has been demoted, yet it is still in the Premier league. What is this team playing for?
GFA as an institution is known to be sometimesconfused and disoriented in its decision making. Whereas in some countries, the FAs quickly deal with protests and irregularities before the next match day, in Ghana, our FA will wait till the end of the season before coming out to punish guilty clubs with points deductions.
If this is not a clear case of biasness and favouritism, swinging towards certain clubs and unduly punishing others, then those words do not exist in dictionaries.
I will always go for a sports administration which is very fair and will never unduly favour one club over the other. Unfortunately, the tradition of our FA as an institution do not have such virtues, and indecision becomes one of its vices.
On Wednesday May 9, 2001, during a league match between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko, in Accra, the referee took a decision against Kotoko which was not pleasing to some ofits fans. Confusion and mayhem resulted in a riot and the police stepped in with tear gas. There was a stampede and in the process, 126 people lost their lives. This made Accra, Ghana, the second highest in the world after the Lima, Portugal stadium disaster in 1964 which took 328 lives.
In March 2017, during a Hearts-Kotoko match in Accra which was handled by Referee Samuel Suka, a strange penalty was awarded against the visitors. A Kotoko player was about ten meters away from a Hearts player, who slipped and fell. The referee quickly blew for penalty against Kotoko. This was successfully converted and Hearts won the day.
Almost a year later, investigative journalist Anas Amereyaw Anas, came out with an exposé on Ghana soccer and boldly confessed that he posed as a Hearts of Oak official and bribed Referee Suka, apparently with GH¢ 2,000.00 and a goat to influence the match in favour of Hearts. And Suka did just that.
GFA could only suspend Samuel Suka and that was it. Anas was not taken on in court, for what he wilfully made the referee to do, could have sparked off another riot as happened in May, 2001. And for Christ’s sake people could have died.
The least GFA could have done was to nullify the results of that game. Even Accra Hearts of Oak did not take any actions against Anas for using the name of the club for something very wrong and illegal, maybe because it benefited from the crime.
GFA, recently suspended Referee Joseph Kenny Padifor awarding what was described as a dubious penalty against Hearts of Oak. Seriously, that penalty looked like the one we had against South Africa and won that game which made us proceed to meet and beat Nigeria to gain a slot in FIFA World Cup 2022.Could one suggest that the GFA is an extension of Accra Hearts of Oak?
Back to this demotion of premier league club Ashgold, to Division Two, we have witnessed more ridiculous match-fixing in Ghana, recalling Abedi Pele’s team, Nania FC beating Okwawu United 31-0 on Wednesday March 28, 2007, while on the same day, Great Mariner, Nania’s rival in the struggle to qualify to the Premier league, also trounced Mighty Jet 28-0. Both teams were immediately demoted to Division Three and fined $20,000.00 andall team officials and players suspended.
Ghana football is losing out compare to those glorious years when our local league was fetish. Most people religiously followed the league and during league matches, stadia and soccer fields were packed to capacity. In other places, radio sets created miniature stadia with soccer fans flocking around and listening to commentaries which flowed so perfectly that one would think he or she was at the stadium. People watched good soccer and even if one’s team got beaten, the losing fans would still be content, because they watched a good game.
These days, Ghana soccer is so dull, to the extent that whenever one wants to have a good Sunday afternoon nap, he or she just have to go to stadium, buy a ticket, take a seat and sleep deeply all through the match.
Instead of the GFA, taken steps to bring back that glory and spirit of Ghana soccer, with colts and all, and make the numerous soccer followers move back from those foreign leagues and teams, what we have are things that make one wonder whether there is any hope for Ghana soccer.For how can an offense committed almost a year ago, be dealt with at the time another season is almost about to end.
Ghana Football Association could do better than this.
Hon Daniel Dugan