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Sports Features of Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Source: Ernest Koranteng

The disappointing ‘New Normal’ of normalizing Ghana football

Dr Amoah is the head of the Normalisation Committee Dr Amoah is the head of the Normalisation Committee

Sports media reports in Ghana since Sunday evening, April 28, 2019, have been replete with stories of violence at the Golden City Park in Berekum as Asante Kotoko played away to Chelsea in the Normalization Committee’s Special Competition, matchday 8 in Zone A.

Drowning a goalless draw outcome that sees Kotoko retain top spot in the zone ahead of SC Medeama, hooliganism and activities of alleged hoodlums have been outrightly condemned following bloody images of injured officials widely circulated on television, new, and social media.

A gun was allowed into the stadium by a usually puny security not just at the Berekum Golden City Park but every football venue in Ghana for many years (A previous case of ex-President of Heart of Lions, Victor Ahiakpor wielding a gun and even firing warning shots at the EL WAK Stadium more than 7 years ago is playing in my memory).

Policy Analyst of Asante Kotoko, Dr. Amo Sarpong, one of the injured is reported to have fired shots repeatedly into the air after reaching for a firearm in his car.

It was a spontaneous reaction and show of bravado that could have gone very bad

The weekend’s events follows on the heels of reported violence in the same Zone A in the same Special Competition when Aduana Stars were found culpable of attacking a referee in their game against Medeama SC.

These incidents only make a growing list of controversies that continue to hit Ghana football even in a period of “Normalization” and describing this latest development as shameful is understating the level of disappointment and anger felt by many who had high hopes following government and FIFA’s decision to trust the work of re-engineering football to a Normalization Committee with respected members of society led Dr. Kofi Amoah, chairman of Ghana’s local organizing committee for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

A widely publicized investigative work on Ghana football in June 2018 by renowned investigative journalist, Anas Aremyaw Anas, exposed years of a cancerous football administering tactics characterized by bribery and corruption, undue political colouration, vested interest, and a shambolic systemic rot spearheaded by former GFA President, Kwesi Nyantakyi.
Nyantakyi’s leadership of the GFA after 13 years was toppled and so should have been the nuances that characterized it by giving way to extensive reforms for a Ghana football industry that scored negative marks in the court of public opinion.
Government of Ghana led by President Akufo-Addo, understanding that the most important section of any democracy is the citizenry and not allies and friends as alleged by Mr. Nyantakyi in the Anas Exposé, moved quickly to satisfy the public with initial threats of wiping out the entire football association and rebuilding the game to win public trust but for the intervention of FIFA.
So we touted the credentials of a Normalization Committee, which has the overarching duty of affecting the game by dealing with the regulatory firmament, but the NC appears preoccupied with other things akin to a permanent team running Ghana Football.
Since September 2018 when the NC was installed, several controversies have characterized the team’s decision-making and actions in the following areas, just to mention but few:
- The constitution of members for ad hoc committees including marketing, media, legal etc with notable members chosen to serve turning down the opportunity citing the lack of proper procedure.
- Unnecessary back and forth concerning the planning and rolling out of a Special Competition for clubs.
- A contractual stalemate between the NC and Coach Kwesi Appiah in a sensitive period leading to the next Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.
- And the sticky subject of an unprecedented 8 million dollars budget for the AFCON.

I am hesitant to write since the NC was mandated in September 2018 to do a real job, rather than merely project competence, they appear to come up miles short even after lobbying extensively and getting a six months extension.

It is striking how things do not appear changed in Ghana football with carcasses of the lack of absolute transparency, bizarre and unjustifiable budgeting, “the leader cult”, and a discreet dishonest maneuverings by several ignoramuses parading themselves as pundits, writers, bloggers, and moderators of radio, and television shows in favour of the NC.

What some of these “self magnified influencers” continue to do is to dwell on arguments that don’t improve the validity of their biases; they only unduly stretch the unwanted propaganda.

To these ignoramuses, I say mediocrity is comparing failure to a worse failure.

On a larger scale in relation to sports, as though talking points about an 8 million budget for Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations participation in Egypt wasn’t enough in a dispensation where the state still cannot fund 50,000 dollars activities by other sports federations like tennis, something that was lampooned and considered scandalous in the past hasn’t changed.

Fixing Ghana football requires making sincere, clever pop decisions, practices, and assessments often used by executives who turn around corporations.

The expectation is that the NC will understand the principle that the more you institutionalize, standardize, and track decision-making processes, the quicker everyone can get aligned on the path forward and realign when things don’t go as planned.

Life is about problem solving and every problem has a solution and the expectation is for the NC to introduce desired reforms.

After eight months in charge of normalizing football, the NC appears to be stealing a living rather than earning it.

And until another incident gets the internet fawning yet again about Ghana football, I hope our assessments and reviews in future, sincerely will not highlight what appears to be a hysteria of immediacy, to chop and change, set the Normalization ball rolling without a realistic, and well thought through plan to reform Ghana football as expected.