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Sports News of Thursday, 19 October 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Let’s all speak up against corruption in football - Nduom

This week, the President of Elmina Sharks has openly complained about the lack of fair play in the Ghana Premier League, especially in situations where referees have decided the results of matches instead of players of opposing sides, or where club administrators connive to cheat.

Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom’s club lost 1-2 to Aduana Stars at Dormaa-Ahenkro last Sunday and as a result handed Aduana the league title. But beyond protests by Sharks over perceived injustice during the match, Dr Nduom followed it up by venting his disappointment about the lack of fair play in the competition and the need for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Premier League Board (PLB) to sit up to the clear danger presently facing the sport.

He said it was about time the GFA took bold steps to promote exciting football whose outcome was totally dependent on the players only, else it could compromise the essence of competition, negatively affect the image of the league and further drive potential sponsors away.

Dr Nduom is not alone in his criticism of the lack of a level playing field in the league with referees often in the line of fire for alleged acts of corruption and blatant bias. Many other club officials have made similar claims in the past but there has not been a well-coordinated action by the FA and other organs of the state to weed out the bad lots in Ghana football and destroy the image of the sport once and for all.

This season alone, the Referees Committee of the FA and the FA’s Disciplinary Committee have handed various sanctions against referees for bias officiating but have not been able to nail any of them for alleged bribery because of the absence of concrete evidence by complainants.

Granted that bribery and other forms of corruption are hard to prove, with the burden of proof on the complainant, the football regulatory body can send strong and clear signals that it would not tolerate any act that would bring the game into disrepute, not least if it is a crime against the state such as bribery.

It is an open secret that football administrators have often bribed their way through domestic and international competitions, with, the President of Tema Youth and Deputy Chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee, Wilfred Osei (Palmer) admitting reluctantly on radio that match officials had previously been compromised to favour the national team. In certain jurisdictions, the Tema Youth boss would have been invited not only by the state security agencies to clarify his comment or be subject to investigations by the football regulatory body. Not in Ghana, where people who operate within the corridors of power are themselves neck-deep in such practices which bring the game into disrepute.

However, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this canker which has undermined fair play and killed the spirit of the game. Ghanaian football legend Anthony Yeboah has often said that he was forced out of football administration as a result of his refusal to yield to the demands of corrupt referees who eventually ganged up against his club in the second tier league.

It is about time the media took the issue more seriously and influential people such as Dr Nduom, Yeboah and others must speak out loudly against corruption of all forms in our game to force the GFA and other regulatory bodies to sit up and deal with the issue head-on.

This weekend, the curtain will be drawn on the Premier League season and the many clubs involved in a relegation dogfight will be engaged in all manner of underhand dealings in a desperate bid to escape relegation, but as has been the case in the past, the football regulatory bodies look on powerlessly or even turn a blind eye to such reports instead of engaging the investigative bodies of the state to get to the bottom of the issue and deal decisively with it.