12.11.2003 Sports News

The need to rise above petty partisanship in our reportage

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(A GNA feature by Cecil Adom)

Accra, Nov 12, GNA - The world of football has never seized to amaze me with the number of controversies that it churns out in every twist and turn that it makes in its development. It is therefore not surprising that our local game has also not been immune to this phenomenon, as week in, week out, questions and storms arise from every decision taken by those at the helm of affairs.

This unfortunate spectacle has persisted over the years and has resulted in a situation where these controversies have become the fuel that our game thrives on instead of sound technical and managerial planning.

With one storm following another, it has now become difficult for anybody to question the extent and the form the controversies are taking, thus creating a perception that those at the helm of affairs are there to seek their personal interest.

This notion has eroded any goodwill for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) as the leadership is seen as not in the collective interest of the nation. Even in certain situations, the rumor mill churns out some stories that tend to be untrue but people still hold unto them no matter what is said to refute them.

This unusual and unhealthy relationship between the football followership and those at the helm of soccer administration in the country has resulted in a culture where anybody puts there to run football is hunted down by a school whose pre occupation is to find faults in whatever the administration does in order to destroy those in charge.

Our situation has also been worsened by the fact that some sports journalists, who should know better and rise above partisanship to be able to objectively inform the general public, have been sucked into this quagmire. This makes it difficult to sometimes separate some sports journalist from fanatic supporters because of their one-sided attachment to issues.

Some sports journalist in the country, have taken this to a level that to them, what is news is the only information that would put an official into "hot waters". The 'bring them down' journalists are prepared to sacrifice all the ethics of the profession to get their hands on some information that would assist their cause.

To me, last week was one of the saddest days in our honorable profession of sports journalism when news broke out that a private conversation between Ben Koufie, our beleaguered GFA Chairman and Alhaji Yusif Adam Ibrahim, Head of the Executive Council of the same association in the latter's office has been secretly recorded by a journalist.

I find the atmosphere surrounding this situation very worrying, since after making the illegal recording, the 'spy journalist' had the nerves to sell it and make profit out of this illegal business. Before my investigations gave me further insight into the whole affair, the question I asked and I believe everybody kept asking was how did private conversation filter into public domain?

What horrified me was when I learnt that the leak came about when Mr Koufie inadvertently failed to put off his mobile phone after a call, hence giving the chance for the caller to eavesdrop on their conversation.

To me, no matter how chilling the content of the conversation was, it does not matter since it was never intended for public consumption. So it surprised me sports journalist laid their hands on an espionage tape and quickly went into town with a matter that was a private conversation.

Instead of condemning the actions of the one who taped the conversation, we made a hero of the violator of the privacy of the two soccer administrators. The question that we should ask ourselves is, should we call for the head of Ben Koufie for expressing an opinion in a private conversation?

Some have supported the recording on the assertion that once his private thought has been transferred to another person, it is no longer private. Then, does it mean that we do not have privacy any more the moment we step into public office? If so, then we are all at risk of having our treasured private matters brought to public domain one day, so long as we hold public office.

I sympathize with Uncle Ben Koufie for the trauma and sleepless nights that this incident has taken him through. I believe that he did the honorable thing by apologizing. But a warning to all those who want to make capital gain out of this unfortunate incident is that, they should know that "what goes around comes around" and that it could happen to anybody else.

To sports journalists who do not want to separate themselves from the passionate supporters, I caution that they should know the damage they would doing to our sport in the long run if they remain partisan in their reportage and actions.

It should be remembered that the post of the GFA Chairman is not a full time profession and if everybody that volunteers his time for the good of Ghana soccer is hounded this way, there would be a time that nobody would come forward, considering the hell they are taken through.

It is time that we see ourselves as stakeholders who need to criticize when the need be and separate our emotions from facts so that we do not become fanatical fans who don't see anything wrong with some wrongs of people who are on their side. 12 Nov 03

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