Soccer News of Wednesday, 26 February 2014
…five days late
Last Friday, the Board of Directors of Kumasi Asante Kotoko finally released a statement rubbishing the bribery allegation leveled against goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama who has been accused of taking bribe from their CAF Champions League conquerors Barrack Young Controllers (BYC) of Liberia after Kotoko was eliminated from the 2014 CAF Champions League.
After the match in Liberia two Sundays ago, reports were rife that the Burkina Faso international had received US$3,000 to throw the match for the Liberian champions.
Accusers of the goalkeeper claimed he deliberately allowed in a cheap goal that gave BYC the needed win to oust Kotoko on the away goals rule.
According to the statement signed by the board chairman of Kotoko Paul Adu Gyamfi, the accusation is manifestly false and only meant to tarnish the name of Kotoko and the player and create a wedge between Kotoko and BYC.
The Board then urged Ghanaians and supporters of Kotoko to ignore the accusation as unwarranted and that they have confidence in Soulama.
That is one gratifying statement to hear from the Kotoko board. Finally coming to the defence of the shot-stopper but I wonder why it had to take the board close to a week to jump to the defence of the Burkinabe international.
The Board issued the statement Friday; five clear days after the allegation was first made and during that period, the goalie had been at the receiving end of not only insults but also threat to his life.
Just before or after the Kotoko Board saw it fit to issue the statement (I’m not sure which event happened first) Soulama had been compelled to lodge a formal complaint at the Ashanti Regional Police headquarters in connection with the bribery allegation leveled against him. And the goalkeeper did this in the company of officials from the Burkina Faso Consulate.
The 34 year-old international confirmed that he visited the police station to lodge the complaint about the bribery allegation because he has been told not to joke with it.
Reports also indicated that the Burkina Faso Football Federation (BFFF) through the Consulate in Ghana wrote to Asante Kotoko to request the club to get to the roots of the matter.
One wonders whether the statement issued by Kumasi Asante Kotoko was not prompted by the letter from the BFFF when the management of the club had remained silent for days and allowed the allegation to fester.
For a player who has been with Kotoko since 2007, it is incredulous that the club did not immediately go to the defence of the player or at least issue a statement to say it is investigating the matter and till the investigations are concluded, the player should not be faulted for the team’s defeat.
It was quite surprising that the Burkina Faso international was left to battle his accusers via the media to the point of lodging a complaint with the police.
One would have thought the managers of Kumasi Asante Kotoko would, at least, be the ones to accompany the player to the Police Station instead of officials from the Burkinabe Consulate.
The statement from the Kotoko Board is good but it came five days late, especially when the skipper of the side, Michael Akuffo, had seen it fit to react to the allegation in defence of the goalkeeper immediately the rumours went viral.
Akuffo described the bribery allegations against the experienced shot-stopper as diversionary tactics for the team to lose concentration with the Kotoko skipper insisting Soulama would not do anything to tarnish his image or that of the club.
Is it not surprising that the captain of the team saw it fit to defend the reputation of the shot-stopper a day after the bribery allegation hit the airwaves when the club management only issued a statement five clear days later albeit at the behest of the Burkinabe football authorities?
Did it have to take Kotoko 120 hours to address such a serious matter, which puts the life of one of their players in danger?
Or was it part of a subtle design to turn attention and accusing fingers in another direction after a board member hinted of massive shakeup in the club and insisted things will change?
The hesitant position adopted by the board before issuing the press release could one day haunt the club if Kotoko fails to delve deeper into the matter to determine the source of the allegation.
As the most successful Ghanaian club, the Porcupine Warriors are supposed to be a family for these players and being a family means defending your members when they are accused of no less a crime than bribery.
Soulama has vowed not to play for the club until he salvages his battered reputation and those who started the $3,000 bribery rumour are brought to book.
Any other player would have packed bag and baggage and head for his home country, especially after managers of Kotoko pretended to have been oblivious to the allegation, even though it had been the dominant sports news for days.
Surprisingly, days before the Kotoko board saw it fit to issue the statement, the President of the Liberian club, Sekou Konney had expressed utter disbelief at the allegation that BYC bribed Soulama.
He argued that if BYC had the mind to bribe any person in order to beat the Ghana champions, the logical person would have been the referee and not the Kotoko goalie, and clearly, one need not be a genius or a magician to understand this argument.
Would the Board's statement settle the matter forever? Certainly, no! For now, yes but the delay in dealing with the matter could come back to haunt the club one day. And if care is not taken, it would also be the bogey to subtle drive players away from the club; because Soulama may be at the receiving end today but the psychological trauma of the allegation would affect the entire playing body.