Ghana Football: Is Redemption Imminent?
When Emmanuel Agyemang Badu converted Ghana’s winning spot-kick in the 2009 U-20 World Cup final against Brazil, “hell broke loose” in Ghana. There was joy unspeakable. Multitudes of Ghanaians lined the principal streets in the country to celebrate the historic victory.
To journalists and football enthusiasts, that World Cup victory was not a one-off but tangible proof that Ghana’s football had come of age and that Ghana was ready to be world-beaters. A year later, the Black Stars made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup and bar Luis Suarez’s handball and the consequent penalty miss from Ghana (a memory Ghanaians wish they could abolish from their hippocampus) the narrative would have been different. The handwriting on the football wall was crystal clear; Ghana was building (or seemed to be building) something spectacular.
Four years later, the Black Stars qualified for the World Cup (for the third consecutive time). Expectations were enormous, and reasonably so! This time, we were poised for at least, a semi-final exit! The Black Stars’ output in the 2014 world cup, contrary to expectations was nothing to write home about.
Controversies, arrogance, conspiracies against co-players and love for money were the “laurels” our national team players brought back home. It was a debacle! After the 2014 world cup, everything happened so fast and we failed to qualify for the 2018 world cup.
Failure to qualify for the world cup aside, the Anas exposé also swept through the nation and beyond like a wildfire in the bush during the dry season. The sting operation by Anas was supposed to signal “corruption free” football in Ghana and to some extent, the whole of Africa (let me not bore you with the details of that investigative piece dubbed, Number 12).
The government of Ghana and FIFA moved to and fro like a simple pendulum which had gained momentum in order to arrive at the best way to restore Ghana’s football to normalcy. FIFA emerged victorious in the “tussle” with Ghana’s government and a Normalization Committee (NC), comprising of Dr Kofi Amoah, Lucy Quist, Lawyer Duah Adonten and Naa Adofoley Nortey was put in place to run Ghana’s football.
Slowly but surely the NC began its work of restoring Ghana’s football to normalcy. When the NC staged its maiden press conference, Lawyer Duah Adonten arrived an hour late and deservedly so, he was chastised by Ekow Asmah……the rest is history. Though apologies were rendered, the mannerisms/body language of the other NC members during that confrontation left a lot to be desired – Lucy Quist and Naa Nortey were guilty of cheekily answering questions posed to them by journalists during the press briefing.
And then the NC announced a Special Championship comprising of all sixteen Premier League clubs and forty-eight Division One League clubs to be staged on the 26th of January, 2019. This announcement was long overdue and received with gladness – we want our local football to be up and running!
However, the lack of transparency and accountability which characterized the erstwhile Nyantakyi administration reared its ugly head in the dealings of the NC and the clubs. The NC failed (or maybe didn’t want to) tell the clubs the entire amount which was to go into this particular tourney. It was later reported that the government coughed out $800,000 for the tournament. Reports gathered also indicated that Oduro Sarfo, the leader of the representatives of the various clubs insisted that the NC communicated wrongfully to the media as they have not stated that they won’t participate in the Competition…..Bar the intervention of Togbe Afede, Oduro Sarfo and the President of the NC, Dr Kofi Amoah could have engaged in a fight.
The bottom line is that the collapse of Ghana’s football was caused by insatiable love for money (which is biblically, the root of all evil) and a total disregard for proven tenets of leadership such as transparency and accountability (you can add to the list).
We are not asking for the heavens if we ask that the NC be more transparent and show a little bit of humility in their dealings with the media and other stakeholders in Ghana’s football, are we?
We are hungry to be served our local football meals but we want the meals served on clean plates with clean cutlery, on a dining table. The NC as our chef must not see this request as burdensome or worrisome. It is just the way things are supposed to be!
Amongst the mandate of the NC was ensuring that a forensic audit of the GFA accounts will be done…….What about progress made with regard to reviewing the GFA statutes so as to ensure compliance with the requirements of FIFA and CAF?
If after all the happenings in Ghana’s football, we haven’t learnt the lessons which caused the crumble of our football cookie, then we must sit tight because our footballing redemption isn’t as imminent as we thought!
Story by Ghana/Gideon Baiden