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Sports Features of Monday, 29 July 2019

Source: Ambassado Ray Quarcoo

Ghana football governance, the way forward

Ambassado Ray Quarcoo wants the GFA Normalization Committee to remain sincere to its mandate Ambassado Ray Quarcoo wants the GFA Normalization Committee to remain sincere to its mandate

FIFA has powers to intervene in the governance of its member associations and such powers are exercised by imposing “normalization committees” on member associations that FIFA determines are not complying with the FIFA Statutes as in the case of Ghana presently.

In the case of Ghana, a four-member Normalization Committee was duly established after FIFA’s intervention after the former GFA’s President’s indictment.

The protection of the integrity of the game is of utmost importance here since the current Normalization Committee is supposed to be in the process of reforming our football governance, but which many have noted that the current ongoing reforms by the Normalization Committee are ad hoc and have not gone far enough - with standards falling far short of those expected.

Whilst normalization committees often have the desired effect of bringing a member association’s governance in line with FIFA’s expectations, the difficulties lie in the determination of what good governance is in the context of a truly global sport like football.

Further, given the integrity issues historically faced by the GFA, questions could be raised regarding the Normalization Committee’s role as moral arbiter - perhaps an independent body would be more effective in decisions such as these.

From past examples, whilst normalization committees can achieve FIFA’s desired outcomes, there are notable examples which open the process up to criticism for being largely ineffective and for preserving the status quo rather than revitalizing the situation.

The example of Guinea Conakry demonstrates how smoothly the normalization committee process is supposed to run, with a relatively quick and positive outcome.

Guinea had a normalization committee imposed on it by FIFA in April 2016 following “internal wrangles” which brought all football competitions in that country to a halt. The normalization committee completed its task 11 months later, with the adoption of a new constitution and the election of a new president in March 2017 and this inured to Guinea Conakry’s qualification to Afcon 2019.

These examples of intervention should serve as a stark warning of the significant consequences of corruption within football.

However, we must all be alive to criticism in acknowledging our failures and be prepared as a matter of urgency to monitor and scrutinize the appointment of committee members, and keep a watchful eye over the suitability of candidates for the Executive Committee positions.

In view of the above, I appeal to the GFA Normalization Committee to remain sincere to its mandate to prepare the grounds for election of new executive committee members of the GFA in September, 2019 as it promised.

Football is Ghana’s most favourite sport. It provides experiences and opportunities for all-male and female, young and old, talented athletes and community level players.

In my candid opinion, Ghanaian domestic club football is in decline, attendance in the stadiums is falling and the quality of football is not very impressive either. As a country that is football- crazy, there isn’t much for us to be happy about. It will take much time to win over our neutral supporters if our football governing body remains visionless.

There is a need for a complete overhaul, restructured and reconstructed footballing platform. Major changes are needed at the grassroots level to ensure there would never be a repeat of the past.

Truly, money is needed to develop the game however; a lack of control over the revenues and profit motives tend to damage local talent. Is Ghana really ready to address the symptoms of stagnation and get to the grassroots to cure the problem? If they need any evidence, all they need to look at is rise of Malagasy’s and its envious record during the 2019 AFCON, Egypt.

In this regard, more importantly, there is need for a national plan that will put an emphasis on redistribution of resources to the sport at community level so that the game will continue to thrive at the grassroots.

There’s a lot of hard work and difficult decisions ahead, but the national, regional and district football administrations need to be well resourced to develop their own yearly operational plans and four-yearly strategic plans, all should take into account the national vision.

This plan should be from broad consultation with key stakeholders and only a dynamic selfless leadership with vision and energy can be able to achieve this.

Like best practices elsewhere, all the teams in the top tier will be required to adopt academies and provide corresponding training facilities, pitches, coaches and physiotherapists.

Also, in addition the clubs will have to necessarily have coaching personnel for the young talents coming in (all the different age groups).The clubs that could not afford these facilities will be provided assistance by the association.

The other reform I propose that will lead to smooth functioning between the clubs and the FA is the 50+1 rule that will require 51% of the clubs to be owned and controlled by their members i.e. their supporters.

This will remove the possibility of one investor taking over the club. This rule will help the clubs nurture new talents as it eradicates the powers of the investor who never would care for the national team but only for his profits through player transfers.

I know the Clubs will struggle for a few years as the academies will be developing and will lack financial muscle. However, in the medium to long term, this enterprise will be profitable in terms of both funds and quality talents.

The mission here is to retain football as the largest and most popular sport in Ghana. Now is the time for the Ghanaian football community to bring the sport to life. The new administration’s plan should give everyone in football’s long-term targets needed to achieve its objectives in order to fulfill our national potential.

Whenever a Premier League club, a community club, a school or a local association ponders its place in our football’s future, the plan will provide a context and a constructive framework. If a fan, player, referee, coach or volunteer wonders where they fit in our football’s ecosystem, the plan should provide a sense of identity, purpose and belonging.

Projections in the plan should be strategic; targeting to have many Ghanaians as part of the Football Community and to have 80% of participants as fans of our Premier League clubs; with a goal to have thousands of elite players, both male and female in every age group, providing a pipeline of talents for our National Teams and professional clubs.