(A GNA feature by Veronica Commey) Accra, Jan 24, GNA - Ghana soccer on Sunday took an unfortunate step backward when Kumasi Asante Kotoko staged a walkout in the second match of the prestigious Coca Cola Top Four competition against debutants Kpando Heart of Lions.
Many have expressed disappointment at the incident that had no mean person than Jerry Asare, who last season replaced Kwame Amoah Bosompim as the club's Accra Representative leading the embarrassing act. To some of us, the action must not only be condemned in no uncertain terms, but personalities who contributed to the shameful behaviour by way of inciting fans to cause damage and bring the name of the beautiful game into disrepute be made to face the appropriate sanctions to ward off future recurrence.
This is an obvious test case for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA) who for the past few years have been campaigning to takeover the running of the premier league.
This is the right time for the GFA and GHALCA in particular to prove to all that it has come of age and that the destiny of the Ghana's football can be entrusted into its hands.
GFA and GHALCA must exhibit enough courage to apply the rules of the game if indeed there are to be taken seriously.
It is about time the so-called "big" clubs are made to understand that they are not bigger than the law and they must act within the confines of the laws governing association football if really they claim to be the pace setters.
One could hardly comprehend why a club like Kotoko known for its amazing fighting spirit has suddenly changed and is failing to come to terms with the fact that a game is either won, drawn or lost. Perhaps the club is yet to fully recover from the shock defeat it suffered at the hands of their bitterest rivals, Accra Hearts of Oak during the Confederation Cup final at the Kumasi Sports Stadium some three weeks ago - and are just not ready to accept yet another defeat knowing very well its repercussions particularly from the fans.
But it is simply unacceptable to have one's emotions and passion to override his or her sense of good judgement knowing very well that their walkover could not alter the score line. In any case, what was the guarantee that Heart of Lions could covert the penalty? Is there not the possibility that the spot kick could be miss-fired? If so, then why the senseless action?
One cannot help but wonder how the players, officials and supporters alike could not for a moment believe in the abilities of their goalkeeper, Mohammed Alhasan to save the penalty or perhaps nurture the thought that the Lions' player could possibly miss the kick. I thought he was in the post because they team trusted him enough.
How many people thought Hearts' skipper Amankwah Mireku could miss the deciding kick in their Confederations Cup finals. That should tell us that every thing is possible under the sun.
Yes, it is a truism that referee Joseph Lamptey's performance was below expectation but whoever justifies the action of Kotoko based on that must be regarded as an enemy to the progress of the global leather. Only two weeks ago, Kotoko broke the hearts of their supporters when they looked favoured to beat Hearts of Oak to the maiden Confederations Cup finals especially in their second leg game in Kumasi at a time the connoisseurs of the game has written off the Phobians.
Alas, the illogicality of football reared it head just to epitomise the assertion that anything can happen in football as long as it is not all over.
A game of football goes beyond 90 minutes and that's how come Hearts' Louis Agyemang was able to give his side a lifeline in the first leg played in Accra with only 30 seconds left in injury time.
Does anyone remember the miracle of "Nou Camp" when Manchester United snatched victory from the jaws on Bayern Munich in the 1999 European Champions League finals after the German club had led 1-0 until the dying minute of the game?
The reality is that apart from the fact that the so called lovers of football have been over shadowed by fanatism to the extend that though they adore European teams and cherish their achievements, they seem to have learnt nothing from the way the Real Madrids, Arsenals and Barcelonas conduct themselves both on and off the field.
Its amuses some of us to hear some clubs describes themselves as the "Real Madrid" of Ghana soccer and yet see no essence in treading the professionalism paths which have seen the Bernabua club grown from strength to strength.
To prompt the need to review the sort of people running our football in the country, is as saying it as it is, and it is against this back drop that I recommend that persons who see nothing wrong in inciting fans especially after the painful May 9 incident must be smoked out of football for the good of the game.
Experience has shown that until people are made responsible for their shortfalls, they will regard their misdeeds as a norm to carry on. The reality is that, had those supporters who took the centre stage of hooliganism and barbarism during the May 9 been prosecuted, those who hurled chairs and missiles unto the tartan tracks last Sunday would have had a second thought of their action.
I have always held the view that our inaction and negligence in prosecuting culprits who misbehave at match venues have been a bane to the country's sports development.
This sharply brings to mind the findings of the Okudjeto Commission's Report that many still believe did a disservice to the beautiful game by failing to name any soccer fan even with the help of video footage. Perhaps, we should count it a blessing to have another opportunity to review the report before our desire to successfully host the 2008 Cup of Nation runs into a ditch.