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Opinions of Sunday, 18 December 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Soccer discipline has no party colors

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The attempt being made by fans and/or members of the group calling itself the Die Hard [sic] Sports Supporters Union to have President-elect Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo pardon former Black Stars’ midfielder Mr. Sulley Muntari and have the latter reinstated onto the team, in order to ensure that this unarguably talented soccer player take part in the 2017 African Cup of Nations or AFCON 2017, is wrongheaded and one that ought not to be tolerated under any circumstances whatsoever (See “Ghana’s President-Elect Nana Addo Urged to Pardon Muntari” / 12/14/16).

It is a wrongheaded petition because the suspension of Mr. Muntari from playing for the country’s senior national soccer team was squarely predicated on the abject lack of discipline on the part of the subject of the petition, a filthy rich Ghanaian-born resident of Italy who presumed to cavalierly ride roughshod over the members of the management team of the Black Stars, to wit, the executive operatives of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).

In the case of Mr. Muntari, this involved the brutal mauling of Mr. Moses Armah, then-member of the Black Stars’ technical team for the 2014 Brazil World Cup soccer tournament.

Not only was such brutal physical assault unconscionable and ethically unacceptable by any measure, the imperious attitude of the assailant made matters even worse. In other words, the flat and stubborn refusal to promptly apologize for his boorish behavior effectively torpedoed his chances of being fielded in any future tournaments on the global soccer scene in which the Black Stars’ qualified to participate.

But what is even more significant to observe and/or highlight here is the fact that the GFA’s management team’s decision to indefinitely suspend Mr. Muntari was effected through a due process of the standing rules of the association. In sum, the alleged assailant was afforded the legitimate right to defend his gross misbehavior the abject failure of which had resulted in his suspension.

We must also quickly point out that the mere fact of him being widely perceived as a generously talented professional soccer player, does not in any way excuse Mr. Muntari’s egregious misconduct. Consequently, any attempt to grant him a pardon is apt to flagrantly violate the GFA’s, as well as FIFA’s, established code of conduct; and this is the last thing that a remarkable former soccer player and devotee of the game like President-Elect Akufo-Addo would like to indulge himself in.

Needless to say, it would also be tantamount to a gross violation of the professional integrity of the executive operatives of the Ghana Football Association, as well as the integrity of the game itself.

Absolutely nobody ought to be held over and above the rules of disciplinary and ethical conduct, merely on account of talent; and on the part of the members of the Die Hard Sports Supporters Union, the avid desire of Ghanaian soccer fans to have the AFCON championship-title famished Black Stars clinch an African Cup of Nations laurel in the offing.

It also goes without saying that ethical conduct of the highest order is part and parcel of the process of becoming a global representative of Ghanaian soccer culture or our national pastime. Mr. Muntari’s indefinite suspension from participating in the international assignments of the Black Stars ought to serve as a salutary deterrent to all talented soccer players and the youthful fans who look up to the likes of Mr. Muntari for meaningful leadership and desirable human conduct.

The sort of boorish Darwinian conduct allegedly exhibited by Mr. Muntari and a couple of his former teammates in Brazil, to be certain, has absolutely no place whatsoever in the civilized sphere of FIFA-sponsored soccer tournaments. And it is solemnly hoped that all arguments would end on this note.