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Puma's contract abrogation with South Africa
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Sports Features of Monday, 21 October 2013

Source: UNIC, Accra

Puma's contract abrogation with South Africa

Puma's contract abrogation with South Africa: Any lessons for Ghana football?

Last week, the media was awash with news about Puma, the sportswear giant, having broken its contract to sponsor Bafana Bafana, the South African's national team, after less than two years of the six-year agreement, following match fixing allegation.

“PUMA abides by a code of ethics in all areas of its business operations and expects its partners to adhere to the same values," said a statement on Thursday, giving reasons for the termination of the contract.

The loss of a major sponsor is a further blow after South Africa failed to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil. A FIFA report last year alleged the results of South Africa's pre-World Cup matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala leading up to the 2010 finals were fixed.

Puma, which took over the sponsorship from German rival Adidas in 2012, was unhappy with the manner the South African Football Association (SAFA) had dealt with the claims.

"Following match-fixing allegations made against Safa along with inappropriate responses from within the football organisation (including the suspension of senior officials), Puma terminated the contract with immediate effect," The company said in a statement.

SAFA initially suspended its chief and four other leading officials in response to the allegations but reinstated them in January, saying they were improperly removed from office.

Puma sponsors a number of Africa's top soccer nations, including Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon.

In Ghana, we have not had a single case in which the senior national, team the twinkle- twinkle Black Stars, have been cited for bribery and we are grateful for that. However, this towering record of clean slate, which is worthy of emulation, cannot be translated to some of our local clubs. There have been occasions of rumours of bribery allegations, especially in respect of matches involving Division One teams which are playing the Middle League to qualify to the Premiership.

We of Public Agenda call on the GFA to take a cue from Puma and deal drastically with any team that will be found culpable of bribery. Any human activity in which money is used to induce persons to compromise on competitiveness to the advantage of others mars the beauty of that activity, and therefore undermines it.

We congratulate Puma for its righteous indignation against SAFA, and hope that all other football associations and clubs globally will learn useful lessons from it. We again hope that Puma will apply similar sanctions against teams it is sponsoring.

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