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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Columnist: Ohene-Bampoe Brenya

Justice for sale: Is it time for an African version of CAS?

“Justice extorts no reward, no kind of price; therefore, for her own sake”- Marcus Tullius Cicero

In the minds of the founding fathers of an arbitrary jurisdiction devoted to resolving disputes related to Sports was to establish a specialized authority capable of settling international disputes. A major part of its foundation is to offer a flexible, quick (and for me the most important part) inexpensive procedure.

However, I am sorry to report that after 36 years of sports justice delivery, the process is neither quick nor affordable.

In 2019, Wilfred Kwaku Osei “Palmer” the President of Tema based division one Club; Tema Youth, filed a case against the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for unlawfully disqualifying him from contesting for the position of President of the Association; a decision that would have a substantial impact on the finances of the Tema Youth President.

The cost of the process is Twenty Two Thousand (22,000)Swiss franc which is approximately Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000) for each party; Palmer and the GFA.

However the GFA refused to pay their part, clearly showing a lack of interest in the case. Which only meant that, the applicant, Wilfred Kwaku Osei had to pay for the full cost of the process to pursue justice in addition to local legal fees.

Lawyer for the applicant, Thaddeus Sory of Sory @ law is believed to have been paid Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000) for his services whilst his counterpart representing the GFA, Naa Odofoley Nortey of Beyuo & Co was paid Thirty Five Thousand Dollars ($35,000).

Overall Osei Kwaku paid Seventy Thousand Dollars for what he thinks is a fair and a just process. I don’t know about you but this is a lot of money even for someone touted to be with “deep pockets”like Osei Kwaku.

Pondering over this, I still have a number of unanswered questions. What if he couldn’t afford the legal process? Does that mean “Justice” will not be served? How many African Athletes and federations can afford such costs?

Is it because this case is not perceived to be as big as Man City vs UEFA? This is a land mark case in the history of Ghanaian football and has the potential to determine the future of our cherished game; football.

The judgement has been postponed twice with the last one being August 4th.

The entire country was on the edge with tensions and constant rumours on who had won and who had lost the case but to the surprise of many, nothing came from CAS.

A statement was released a day after to announce the postponement of the judgement to September 1st.

CAS held a country of 30 million people to ransom with no reason. Insights from people with experience and knowledge of the processes at CAS explain that, postponing a ruling twice is unusual and points to a lack of respect for the parties involved and by extension Ghana.

Justice delayed is justice denied. This experience can be equated to the suspicion by many that the International Criminal Court was set up to prosecute only African leaders and “will not” and “cannot” prosecute other leaders with strong economic and military powers.

I believe it is time that as Africans, we have our version of CAS; an arbitrary judicial system dedicated in resolving disputes in Sports “In Africa – By Africans- For Africans.

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