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14.11.2002 Football News

Cheating in club competitions, which way?

By William Ezah
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Recent treatments meted out to Ghana's participants in the African Cup Winners Cup competitions, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, in Congo during their second leg match against AS Police portrayed the level of civilization in African football in this era of modern and scientific game.

On the contrary, there is no doubt that visiting teams are given the best of treatment when they come to Ghana but the same clubs maltreat Ghanaian teams during second leg return encounters. These maltreatments indicate that in this present day when the world is seeking modern and scientific ways of developing and improving the game, African Clubs still resort to archaic and uncivilized ways to achieve success. No wonder we are always content with our performance, anytime we reached the quarter finals of the World Cup or even the second round.

It also not surprising that Asians and other less known football countries like South Korea and Turkey were in the last four teams in the FIFA world cup staged in Japan and South Korea this year. It is sad that there is still mass cheating and maltreatment of clubs in CAF organized competitions like Club Championship and Cup Winners Cup as well as other related events.

The CAF competitions dated back to 1960's and clubs from East, Central and North African have ever since delighted in day light robberies and glaring maltreatment of visiting clubs in order to gain undue physical and psychological advantage over their opponents.

The issue of low class hotels and mosquito infested hostels, poor training pitches, poor food as well as lack of general care for visiting teams in places like the two Congo's have been the headache of visiting teams to these parts of the continent.

Officials of clubs like Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko have had occasions to tell their own horrifying stories in their away encounters in the continental assignments. Accra Hearts of Oak have not yet forgotten the treatment they were subjected to in 2001 when they were in Congo for a second leg match against Etoile Du Congo in the preliminaries of that year's Club Championship.

Aside of the maltreatments, they were subjected to biased officiating hence their in ability to make a successful defence of the cup resulting in their early exit. For the case of Kotoko, they were told of what would be awaiting them in their return match in Congo after they had demolished AS Police 4-0 in Kumasi during the first leg.

And true to the words of Coach Dengaki of AS Police, the fabulous boys were taken through hell in their match in Congo. Later media reports said that the coach was sacked

for opening his mouth too wide in Kumasi.

In spite of all these, the continent's football governing body, CAF, has shown no concern over the situation. No doubt the CAF president Issa Hayatou lost miserably to Sepp Blatter when he made an attempt to be the president of FIFA. Because many accused him of not doing enough to reduce the rot in African Football.

The CAF scribe is still sitting idle without solving the unending problem but is instead embarking on unnecessary reshuffle in the executive board of the confederation. It would however be noted that the introduction of CAF Champions league has reduced the negative things associated with the game in Africa to some extent but in the other competitions they are still rampant.

This is because of the live viewing of the champion's league competition. But the preliminaries are still plagued with the canker crying to the continent's football governing body to take pragmatic steps to solve the problem.

Unless the CAF president wants to say that he is happy with the situation, since for the past years he has not been able to find the antidote to the problem, one wonders to what use the various committees of the confederation are being put.

It is for this reason that CAF must sit up and take a critical look at the complaints lodged by clubs which suffer these acts of barbarism. Many such acts have gone without the confederation passing comments let alone taking steps to stem their recurrence.

Sepp Blatter should not think of developing only infrastructure in Africa, even though it is well appreciated, but must help to clean up the rot in the game on the continent in order to ensure the emergence of worthy champions. Also, Africa's football association must do well to speak against all unsportsmanly practices which turn to tear us apart instead of uniting Africa through sports.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) only came out to condemn the Congolese but has failed to make any aggressive move to see to an end of such behaviors by clubs who want to win by hook or crook.

Ghanaian clubs participating in CAF organised competitions must do well to take pressmen along so that they can report on these happenings. Kotoko did well by giving the incidents in Congo some publicity through their official mouth piece "Kotoko Express" as well as other private radio stations in the country. Clubs like Hearts, Goldfield, Liberty must take note of these.

Finally there is the need for all clubs to unite and fight against these things by any means necessary and possible. There can be boycotts of CAF competitions as a way of protest. It is the hope of all that African soccer would be free of all these troubles as we look forward to host the World Cup and if possible win it.

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