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Sports Features of Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Source: Jerome Otchere ,contributor

Jerome Otchere writes: Tears for the Ghana Football Association


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Some pundits have remarked that, from all conceivable angles, a cancellation of the 2019/2020 football season by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) was the only reasonable decision that was left its table amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, which warranted the suspension of football in the country in the middle of March.

A few weeks after the suspension was announced, I objected to calls for cancellation at that time. It was too early in the day to take such a decision.

Yet, after the end of May, when indications were that, the football association had been unsuccessful to persuade Government to even allow players to train in batches, I did not see how football would return anytime before August or September.

Indeed, the ban on mass gatherings and other restrictions had been extended to July 31 at the end of May. Youth and Sports Minister, Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah had also signaled that football was not returning soon, when he said that, the state could not afford the cost of coronavirus tests for players.

I there and then gave up any expectation of resumption or continuation of the season. Questions have been asked why it took the GFA quite a long time before arriving at their latest decision. It is difficult to understand on but on a second thought, it is fair to assume that, they needed consultations with various stakeholders before arriving at what is now an unpleasant, abrupt end. Unpleasant because the cancellation means huge losses in diverse forms to the GFA and its major stakeholders. And abrupt because this was not anticipated from the start of the season.

Colleague journalist, Saddick Adams reported the GFA’s spokesman, Henry Asante as saying that, the cost of the cancellation was over $2.2million. It is understandable. Besides, as a new administration trying to restore integrity and confidence in our game, post #12 (the corruption video that tore the fabric of our game into shred in June 2018), the GFA will naturally feel sour about the cancellation. Companies like StarTimes and MTN have pumped money into broadcast rights and FA Cup competition for example.

So, ending the season unexpectedly cannot be exciting for anyone at the FA. It has to be stated, however, that, at some point, this was inevitable. Health concerns; how to safeguard the lives remained an unresolved issue based on snippets of information picked from the GFA, Government interaction.

I share the tears of the GFA in having to abrogate the season but I also appreciate the need to protect lives. The argument about financial implications is valid but it does not override the point about protecting the lives of all involved in the game. This decision could have been taken a month back but it is better delayed than never. Stakeholders should be back to the drawing board to still identify how the game can return with zero or minimum risks later or in 2021 now that, the coronavirus has come to stay. Anyway, Asante Kotoko can have more time to fix its leadership paralysis.

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