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Sports Features of Monday, 9 April 2018

Source: Ghana Soccernet

How the Food and Drugs Authority is silently killing growth of football in Ghana

The unpopular decision by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to practically prevent alcoholic beverages from associating with sporting disciplines is mutely suffocating and killing the growth and interest of alcoholic beverage companies from sponsoring sports in particular football in Ghana, can reveal.

The FDA, which draws its unfettered powers from Ghana’s constitution appears to be exercising their powers arbitrary, albeit its huge ramifications on the survival of sports sponsorship in Ghana.

Admittedly Article 3:2:12 of the FDA statues expressly states that: “Where an Alcoholic Beverage Company sponsors a program, a well- known personality, sporting activity, festival and any other function, an advertisement or publicity event that promotes the product must be submitted to the Authority for approval.”

This clause gives the authority the discretionary powers to either approve or deny any group seeking to work with an alcoholic beverage company.

The current stand-off has made it practically impossible for several sporting organizations to get the go-ahead to secure sponsorship packages from alcoholic beverage for their programmes which have hindered the growth of football in Ghana. understands the much-talked-about 2017 Tertiary Football League (TFL) which gained inches in the Ghanaian media has been brought on its knees and thrown the future of hundreds of prospective football stars in limbo after the FDA refused to allow Guinness Ghana Limited (headline sponsors) the go-ahead to offer financial support to the most loved sports in Ghana over several bogus claims.

The maiden Tertiary Football League was launched LIVE on KWESE in September 2017 and the games started 2weeks after with 12 Ghanaian tertiary institutions playing at KNUST and University of Ghana every Saturday. The event attracted the leadership of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), football fans and scouts from both local and foreign teams.

Ghana’s leading football website, can reveal that Guinness globally had planned to invest heavily in football, starting 2017, hence their interest in sponsoring the Tertiary Football League and possibly the Ghana Premier League, which is ultimately the biggest football platform in Ghana.

When contacted Yaw Sakyi Afari, CEO of Rite Sports, the organizers of the maiden Tertiary Football League, he cunningly declined to comment on the development. However, when pushed by, the affable and ever-smiling Yaw Sakyi said “We continue to engage stakeholders to bring resolution to this matter in a way that offers assurances to the regulator empowered to control the activities of these companies and also provide the platform for alcoholic beverage brands to engage their consumers through these sporting platforms”.

It’s just a microcosm of how several young Ghanaian businesses are suffocating under such bizarre and unyielding stance of the FDA, which has made it extremely hellish and nightmarish for companies to get sponsorship from alcoholic beverage companies.

The FDA has been adamant in giving express approval for the global beverage company to be associated with the sports purposely earmarked for athletes at the tertiary level.

Several attempts fell on deaf ears – leading to the premature cancelation of a grassroots football which had the penchant of producing many world stars for the nation.

The essence of the law that bars advertisement to persons under the legal drinking age (18), either directly or indirectly do not fall under the purview of University students who are far above the prescribed age limit.

Any policy direction aimed at regulating the production, distribution sale, advertisement and consumption of alcohol, with the aim of minimizing the negative impact of its abuse on the individual, family, and society as a whole may be deemed welcoming.

But in a country where sponsorship for sporting disciplines has become an extremely difficult myth, a total shutdown will be a recipe for chaos for sports growth.

While there are young teetotallers and moderate-drinkers, for many young people, alcohol is the social fuel of choice – just as it was for previous generations.

Which is the point? Don’t young people start drinking because… they’re young people? This is what young people do, and have always done. They did it long before brand logos started appearing on sports tops.

Thus, a ban sounds good but what would it achieve – a rebellion against big brands, a nod to consumer health? That’s good, but it’s still not a direct link between sports advertising and youth drinking. The only connection between young people and alcohol is that young people have always wanted to drink it.

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and other stakeholders must engage to find an amicable solution that will promote responsible attitudes and behaviours in the marketing of alcoholic beverages as well as protect the marketing freedoms of alcohol manufacturers’ vis-à-vis support for sporting disciplines. it’s crucial to reach a middle ground to ensure the sustainability and growth of key contributors to the development of Ghana.

There is no proof that young people start drinking because of a logo they see on a sports shirt. For a football country like Ghana, preventing alcoholic beverage companies which have the financial capacity to support such events will negatively impact the growth of the sport.

Please FDA must come again!!

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