...CLEANING THE MESS OF GHANA FOOTBALL Burkhard Ziese can go to hell! And I mean every word of it. If he thinks threatening to go to the Federation of International Football Associations will make everybody panic into handing him back a job he so disastrously failed to discharge, he must be a joker. We are in no mood to entertain tirades from a coach we had to virtually break the bank to acquire and who has been a monumental failure. If Burkhard does not know, failing to qualify for the African Cup of Nations is a national calamity. The least this nation could do to soothe part of the pain is to see the back of the person who mishandled the technical build-up of the team, in the process of which he showed no respect to anybody. We gave him an assignment and he failed miserably. All over the world, coaches are fired for failure to deliver. It is one occupational hazard that goes with the fat salary and generous fringe benefits. Losing in any football game is not a pleasant experience. When the loss is against minnows of the African game like Rwanda and Uganda it is not something that Ghanaians should smile over. If coaches in his native Germany had so failed in their national assignments, they would be sent packing instantly. That is why Burkhard Ziese should stop testing our patience. If he wants to go to FIFA, that is his business. I can assure him that the Ghana Football Association will meet him squarely on behalf of the 18 million population, whose football fortunes he has so atrociously toyed with. No one owes him a living. He came to do a job. He could not discharge it. He has to go back home. Period! I get irritated when foreigners come here and expect us to treat them like kings even when they have caused us so much pain. I cannot fathom for what reason Burkhard wants to meet President Kufuor. Has the President contracted him to do anything? It is the GFA that brought him here. And if the football controlling body is unable to justify his continued presence on the job for which he was contracted, what the hell does the German want to see the President for? Burkhard was at the Kumasi Sports Stadium when Kumasi Asante Kotoko played Accra Hearts of Oak, last Sunday. While no one is suggesting the German has no business watching a game of football in any part of the country, later developments make it imperative that he is watched carefully. According to the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee of Asante Kotoko, Burkhard approached the club’s acting skipper Joe Hendrick and told him of a contract secured with a German club and that the player, once rejected by him as a national asset, should get ready to fly to Europe for a professional stint. I do not know what the GFA makes of this kind of approach. But I think it is time someone told Burkhard something. He was brought here to coach the Black Stars and not to poach the players. Many a time, people come to this country with more than their official briefs in mind. By the time it would be possible to read through their intentions, the harm had already been done. That is why the GFA, especially should examine the circumstances under which the coach approached the player before last Sunday’s clash of the titans between Asante Kotoko and arch rivals, Accra Hearts of Oak at the Kumasi Sports Stadium. The match itself exposed a number of grey areas in Ghana football. I have still not been able to rationalize the behaviour of Suhum-based referee William Agbovi. He appeared to notice most of the infringements and other decisions in favour of Accra Hearts of Oak. On the other hand, the referee was very liberal in interpreting the rules when decisions were in favour of Kotoko. Infringements on Charles Taylor especially went unpunished. And this allowed Hearts to kick their way throughout the 90 minutes. It was as if Hearts were above the rules of the game. In one classic case of comedy, the referee’s attention was drawn by one of his assistants to a situation in which a Hearts of Oak player had remonstrated with the assistant referee. Referee Agbovi rushed to the scene without even verbally talking to the player involved. I have had the occasion to point out on a number of occasions situations when our referees have failed to perform. But no action is taken. The way things are going, if action is not taken and immediately, the men in the middle would ruin our game. I have always pointed to the short-comings of the men and women in the middle of our game and made allusions to the fact that the failure of our referees is reflected in the fact that only two – Rex Quartey and Odartey-Wellington appear to be the only match officials invited to handle matches outside the country. For a nation that pioneered football along the West Coast of Africa, that is not good enough and both the Referees Association of Ghana and the Referees Committee of the GFA, need to examine the way they do things. It looks like the two institutions have become the preserve of certain personalities. For a decade, Johnfia has remained Chairman of the Referees Committee of the GFA. Whatever qualities he has brought into his job, one cannot vouch for his ability to resist the temptation to favour certain teams after remaining so long at post. The other day, the SWAG called for a review of the GFA Constitution to remove the bottlenecks retarding the progress of the game. My information is that there is movement in that direction. There are suggestions too that the sports writers call for re-look at the way the Ghana League Clubs Association GHALCA is composed and as well as the way it is impacting on the game locally, is also to be addressed soon. A few people who are likely to be affected by any re-organization are making noise. But that is no reason why the FA should sacrifice progress in football to the whims and caprices of people who are more interested in what they could gain from the game than what their contribution has been. I am serving notice to those casting insinuations against the SWAG for making valid suggestions for the forward march of our football to be wary of what their tongues could land them. This writer is ready for a full-scale war if they want one. We cannot allow our game to be hijacked by people who think football is there to be milked. One would like to believe a review of the way things are done at the FA would take on board the re-organization of the Referees Committee. After a decade at the helm of affairs, conventional wisdom dictates that Johnfia has nothing more up his sleeves. Refereeing in this country has been a bane to the progress of our game and it is time another group of people are given the chance to appoint and direct referees at football matches. I have written and spoken on a number of occasions against the tendency of club officials to spend the fortune of our teams on what has become known in football parlance as Ways and Means. Last Sunday, Accra Hearts of Oak refused to go to the dressing room for the normal inspection of teams. People who, clearly could be traced to the camp of Ghana’s oldest existing club sprinkled a number of concoctions on the field. No one is suggesting that as club officials, the Hearts leadership or any club officials have no right to hold on to their beliefs. But when beliefs interfere with the smooth organization of the game, it becomes a problem. One would like to believe that these acts belong to history – a period in time when the game was just progressing and people felt consulting super natural powers was necessary to win games. There is evidence on the ground that substantial amount of club money go into these rituals. A century after the first game was played under moonlight at Cape Coast; it is time to consign these rituals to history. Less I forget Kumasi fans also need to be educated on the need to keep calm. Throwing of missiles like ice water parcels into the inner perimeter and on the turf does not advance the cause of the team they support. I invite the FA to be tough. Our failure to qualify to play in the finals of the African Cup of Nations Championship in Tunisia should inform us that we ought to fine tune our game. And that means getting rid of all negative tendencies. We owe it to the game; to be more scientific in our approach to the way things are done at the FA secretariat. Of course we need referees who are bold enough to interpret the laws of the game without fear or favour.