Sports Features of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Source: Frank Apeagyei

A call to topple the GFA

Once again the critics have mounted their ‘Hobby Horse’, doing battle against the Ghana Football Association (GFA) in their pursuit to have it toppled by whatever means. Led by Mr. Joseph Ade Coker, the call to probe the GFA by Government is loudest today as published in the ‘Daily Graphic’ of February 25, 2013, than ever before.

The problem I have with this call is that it is coming from a gentleman who, by his long association with football clubs (Olympics and Olympiakos) and his involvement in the administration of the GFA itself, having once occupied a top position as Vice Chairman, ought to know that the Government of Ghana does not finance or resource the GFA to administer the business of Football in the country.

The GFA is not a subvented Organisation. It receives no grant or aid or subsidy or stipend from the consolidated fund or from the budget. Not a dime is paid by Government to assist its administrative and other costs.

However, since it is the responsibility of the sovereign State to take care of the national teams, by virtue of the fact that they play under the banner of the national flag, ordinary financial requirements in terms of allowances, bonuses, board and lodging etc are handled by Government.

It must be made clear that to keep itself afloat, the GFA relies heavily on internally generated funds (however meager) buoyed up by sponsorships as well as remittances from FIFA for specific projects.

To say that the tasks facing the GFA in the promotion and development of football in Ghana is onerous, is to state the obvious. With no initial capitalization, GFA embarks upon Youth Football Development, Women’s Football Development, National League Organisation and Management, Technical Development with reference to Referees, Sports Medicine and the training of Coaches, Technical Handlers and Football Administrators.

I believe the public must be informed about the fiduciary arrangement between the GFA and Government in order that minds are not continuously, polluted by those determined to ruin reputations of the fine gentlemen and ladies who have given themselves up to render national services through football against their personal and professional interests.

Mr. Ade Coker calls upon the Government to “restructure all the National Football Teams to make them, as he puts it, “more competitive and worthwhile”.

Put aside anything that calls for laughter and simply ask the question: In what way would Government handle this assignment? Can it sidetrack the mandated body that put the teams together and announce new players to form the national teams?

What is more, the report goes on to say he bemoans the lack of transparency in the GFA and questions why the Government, which funds the various national teams, cannot investigate how the taxpayers money is spent.

The truth is that the GFA has nothing to hide. It is as transparent as its obligation pushes it to be and has been accountable to its stakeholders including Government as the laws in its legal framework demands of it. Mr. Coker knows this because he has been through it.

Or is anything being done differently now from how things were done in Mr. Coker’s administration in terms of accountability?

Many are those who are unaware that the GFA’s accounts are audited by the Auditor-General whose reports go to Parliament for scrutiny. Besides, the GFA has established the Public Interest Committee (PIC) on which Government appointees serve and these appointees have accounting background sufficiently strong enough to scrutinize payments from Government to the national teams.

Mr. Coker mentions “money doled out to the GFA to cater for the Black Stars prior, during and after the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign” and raises an alarm to “the citizenry and Government not to overlook it”. Fair enough, but he forgets that such monies are usually kept and disbursed by the Ministry and not the GFA. And in this case, the delegation was led by a Minister of State who was designated the co-ordinator in the person of Dr. Edward Omane Boamah. So the alarm, so sounded, may be in the right direction particularly as supporters numbering over 1000 are reported to have received allowances of USD 100 or more each.

Mr. Ade Coker further urges the new Minister of Youth and Sports to be “firm and interrogate the actions and dealings of the FA” wondering “why the FA had been allowed to act arbitrarily at will in the name of respecting its independence by both the State and the general populace”

Poor him! When can he learn that the GFA is not part of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAS) of Government and that the last time EOCO intruded into the affairs of the GFA, they got some unpleasant verdict from the court.

What is worrying, however, is the fact that these calls are aimed patently at inciting the public to act and in a way that he himself does not define.

He surprises everybody when he urges a Minister of State to disrespect the independence of the GFA. Perhaps, he needs a reminder that the charter of the Association forbids Government’s interventions, or interference in the affairs of the Association which, like any of the privately organized groupings, is not under the control of a Minister.