03.09.2003 Sports News

Who is corrupting the beautiful game?

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(By Richard Avornyotse, GNA Sports Desk)

Accra, Sept 3, - GNA - Suddenly, the beautiful game which is referred to variously as football, soccer, or 'boru,' and 'abo' in some Ghanaian languages has become the subject of controversy among the players, administrators and indeed the large population of its followers.

There are suspicions and accusations among the actors and the managers on and off the field and indications are that the game has sunk deep into disrepute and if care is not taken, the consequences might be far greater than any one would expect.

Discussions around town; at bus stops, training grounds of teams, community recreational joints, drinking bars, offices, markets, homes and you name it, are all centred around the big monies which change hands to influence match results.

Though no one has any concrete evidence to pin charges on anybody, rumours and allegations are rife in the air and those in authority must set in motion a process to investigate the system in order to purify it from any underground dealings that might have corrupted the league system before it begins to take lives.

We should not pretend that all is well because nobody has been caught giving or receiving bribes. We must hold the bull by the horn and wrestle it down into submission before it tears the smelly recesses of our professional league apart. We must act promptly and decisively too.

Have I heard you say that Ghanaian team officials pay losing bonuses to players of opposing teams who cooperate with their clandestine demands to play to lose? Have I heard you say that players' mobile phones buzz with calls from managers of teams they are supposed to play in the next fixture?

Is it true that some 'media guys' front for some clubs in paying monies to players from opposing camps?

Could it be true that referees are now the best paid Ghanaians as some of them receive as much as 50 million cedis to determine a single match (for just 90 minutes of trotting) in favour of a team?

Is it true that in some cases, referees who are lambasted by some clubs are those who refuse monies they are offered by such clubs? What about suggestions that some coaches compromise with opposing teams to throw matches of teams they are paid to train?

Can it be possible that some matches are determined in the boardroom before the players get onto the field? And finally, why do some referees make 'intentional mistakes?'

In order to find out the truth about these allegations which have refused to leave the gossip corners, it is absolutely necessary the Ghana Football Association initiates an investigation to establish the potency or otherwise of the stories.

It should be obligatory on the ministry of Youth Education and Sports to liase with its counterpart from the Interior to try as much as possible to unravel the puzzle.

The Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, we believe is capable of getting to the roots of this dirty practice, which is creeping into the league system, making nonsense of healthy competition.

The net must spread wide enough to fish out those who give and those who receive bribes. The players and coaches who betray their employers must be banned and prosecuted, same with officials who influence players to lose matches.

Any referee who is caught receiving money must be prohibited for life and thrown into a long-term jail, while the front men must also be made to face the music.

We must act now to rid our soccer of illicit practices that stand to ridicule the game and tarnish the reputation of the entire citizenry. Let us try to protect the little that is left of our football status. Let us fish out those who are corrupting our football. Keep shooting! 3 Sept 03

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