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08.12.2005 Football News

GFA must unravel match-fixing allegations

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A GNA Feature by Richard Avornyotse

Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - Every country has its own laws and conventions, which ensure that those who live within its borders respect and obey them so that sanity prevails.

Similarly, every society or association has its rules, which members must conform to so long as they desire to be part of such blocs. Indeed, a world without laws and rules would be sending man back to the state of nature where lawlessness was the order of the day and superior strength determined who got what. To ensure that laws and rules are obeyed, penal codes are outlined and applied when they are violated and the judicial process ensures equal treatment and application for all citizens, regardless of status, tribe or political affiliation.

Since the introduction of association football, there was the need to guide it with rules in order to inject some decorum into its organisation, execution and ruling.

Consequently, the rules of the game allow eleven players on a side at a time and not more and they allow three officials to handle a match and determine who emerges the winner. In some cases the performance of the two sides draws parity and such matches end in stalemates.

With football becoming big business and players earning mega bucks, well ahead of the choicest professionals in the world and with punters staking highly on football pools and games, a new era of corruption has regrettably dawned in soccer circles.

In some parts of the world, gamblers connive with soccer players and managers to pre determine the results of football matches so that they could gain unnecessary financial advantage in a gambling game. The case of Robert Hoyzer, the young German referee who was convicted recently of receiving 79 thousand dollars and a flat screen television set from a betting gang to fix matches is a clear example of how serious a crime match-fixing is in Europe. There had also been numerous convictions in Asia in the last three years.

In Ghana, however, though there are no organised gaming units associated with our local leagues, the desire to win matches and either achieve championship status or avoid the drop has driven stakeholders to indulge in under table dealings to influence the results of matches. There had been copious reports about referees taking money from clubs to award them matches. It is an open secret that some teams, which lack the wherewithal, can never win against some of the elite teams in Ghana. What a shame!

It is in the light of the above that the recent accusations and counter accusations about match fixing from none other than the two most glamorous clubs in the country, Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak call for a forensic assessment of the situation.

The matter has been in the courts of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for quite some time now and some of us are getting concerned about the delay in arriving at a decision.

We hear from the fringes of the Disciplinary Committee that some of those who are expected to give evidence have suddenly gone dumb and tongue-tied or have failed to make themselves available.

The GFA must have the moral courage to compel players and team officials who have made allegations against any player or team official, or who have been mentioned as facilitators of dramatis personae of fixed matches to appear before it and prove their cases or defend themselves. Football is serious business but in our part of the world, the game has not yet attained a true professional status, so most individuals who fund it use money they had made from other ventures.

Some of the financial backers of the game do it for the love of it while others hope to derive some financial benefits from it in due course. Thus, denying them of deriving glory from the performance of their teams will only kill their desire to invest in the game. Where some teams have made it a matter of routine to infiltrate the ranks of opposing players and offer losing bonuses to their players so that they would win matches, is to say the least ridiculous, unfortunate and disgraceful.

In association football, there must be an even playing field for all teams regardless of the kind of colours they play in or the size of their supporters.

The game must be played according to the rules and where it is established that some teams or individuals have fallen foul of the rules they must be made to face the music to serve as a deterrent to others. The GFA must hold the bull by the horn in order to eliminate once and for all the stinking canker of corruption in our game.

A situation where clubs' accounts shamelessly indicate some huge sums of money going into "ways and means" must cease pronto. If indeed the tape displayed and distributed in Kumasi by Kotoko officials contains the real voices of Tommy Okine of Hearts of Oak and Victor Ahiakpor of Heart of Lions, they must be prosecuted.

But if it is false, those who made it up with the intention of throwing our game into further shame must be made to face the music. If there is any morphine of truth in the allegations of Nurudeen Wemah of RTU about a move by Kotoko to fix their penultimate league match, drastic action must be taken against those behind the move. However if Wemah made up the story he must not be spared either. Everything must be done to arrive at the truth in relation to those allegations and counter allegations.

Someone must become the scapegoat to cleanse our football.

Keep shooting!

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