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Sports Features of Monday, 29 July 2013

Source: Christopher Opoku

Comment: Nyantakyi must apologise for offensive comments

I have always held the belief that no matter how you may differ with someone in opinion, such disagreements can be handled without insulting each other. We cannot always agree, but I believe that we can agree to disagree without rancor.

Unfortunately, disagreeing without rancor seems to be a major challenge the world over and last week, we were treated to what I would describe as an unrestrained diatribe from the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi.

Let me confess that, having come into contact with Nyantakyi many times over the years, even though I have disagreed with some of the things he says and does, he has almost always shown tolerance for opposing views.

For example, he called me after I wrote asking for Ghana’s friendly with Japan to be cancelled to explain why the match should come on.

He came across simply as someone who wanted to give out information I did not have and even though I did not agree with his reasons, I respected him the more for what he did and published his reasons just the same.

So, with the charisma that Nyantakyi possesses, which has seen him not only stay as GFA boss all this while but also become a likely successor to CAF President Issa Hayatou in 2017, it was mind boggling to say the least to hear him rain insults on the outgoing International Relations Manager for Asante Kotoko, Kwame Baah Nuako.

Mr Baah Nuako had mentioned on Asempa FM that Nyantakyi had gone to report the club to its owner, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II for allegedly under-declaring the transfer fees accruing from Ben Acheampong’s transfer to Angolan club Petro Atletico.

Nyantakyi called into a minimum of three radio stations to react to the comments made and whilst he made a compelling case for Wa All Stars to receive $100,000 as the 40% onward transfer instead of the $60,000 received from Asante Kotoko, I felt that some of the words he used were not good at all.

I was actually called by a colleague that Nyantakyi was making his case on one of the nation’s top radio sports stations, Happy FM. I quickly asked for a copy of the tape so that we could transcribe for

Whilst I was doing so, my colleagues from Kumasi-based radio station, FOX FM also sent me the tape from his interview with them.

Honestly, I was taken aback because I had never known Nyantakyi to use such strong language publicly.

Yes, he was clearly upset at having been accused of gossiping with the Ashanti Kingdom overlord, but in my view, that gave him no right whatsoever to rain insults on anyone.

There is a popular saying that with great power comes with great responsibility. For Nyantakyi to describe Baah Nuako as ‘a child without training’ was totally inappropriate and unacceptable.

In other interviews, Nyantakyi even went to the extent of describing Baah Nuako’s father and respected academician Professor Baah Nuako as ‘someone not fit to clean the sandals of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.’

In my view, these comments were offensive and totally unlike the Kwesi Nyantakyi we have all come to know.

The danger now is that if the GFA president can insult someone on air because of existing differences, it sets a very bad example for others to follow and if care is not taken, many others will follow suit.

That will be very bad for our football. Nyantakyi is seen as a role model by many and even as he is not perfect, his speech should epitomise decorum so that we can all learn from it.

Strong leadership often involves effective handling of disagreements and once you have made your point that should be it.

I am aware of the fact that Nyantakyi and Baah Nuako are close friends and so the use of such words is simply out of order.

I felt that Nyantakyi put his points across brilliantly, especially his doubts about the co-operation agreement and whether he was right or wrong about what he was saying, it was pretty instructive.

So Nyantakyi could easily have left it at that, but insulting Baah Nuako’s person amounted to going into the gutter and to be blunt, the GFA boss had it totally wrong in that respect!

I am reliably informed that Baah Nuako has sought the intervention of the Mampong stool to apologise to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II for insinuating that the monarch was involved in gossiping.

In my view, that is the right thing to do, and Nyantakyi must follow suit by apologizing to Baah Nuako and his father for making such unpalatable comments about them.

That would not only increase his standing and stature as Ghana’s number one football administrator, but also enhance himself in the eyes of many. So I end this short piece by calling on Nyantakyi to apologise for the offensive comments he made.

I hope he heeds this call so that in future everyone can learn that disagreements can best be handled without the use of offensive language.

PS: I suppose it is also a lesson to those of us in the media. Perhaps, especially for those working in the electronic media, the time has come for us to take the bull by the horn and tell such personalities in the face that what they are doing is wrong when they make intemperate statements. We also have a role to play and we also have to learn to criticize constructively without using offensive language.

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