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Opinions of Thursday, 16 August 2018

Columnist: Joseph Kingsley Eyiah

Do not bow to the pressure of FIFA

The past few months have been challenging for the Ghana Football Association. The exposé by ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas premiered on the 6th and 7th of June 2018 dubbed ‘number 12' revealed a lot of rots in our football circle.

The exposé, to a larger extent, provided the empirical evidence to critics who opined that the association mandated to oversee football in the country was engulfed in outright rot of corruption. This rather unfortunate revelation made Ghanaians to lose interest in Ghana football with little or none following updates of even the Ghana Black Stars.

Against this backdrop, the government of Ghana ultimately halted all football activities in the country. Meanwhile, a recent document from the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) copied to the government demands a rescission of decision within a two week ultimatum period.

However, some facts have to be clearly stated, Ghana is an independent country regulated by laws. What this means is that all other laws in the country are subject to the constitution of the country.

Sometimes, I find it heartbreaking and worrying to hear football lovers claim they are independent thus the government should not interfere in their activities. Critically, this saying does not add up. In fact, it is the sole responsibility of the government to fund all the activities of all our national teams. And here I will pause and ask whether or not it is FIFA who fund them? Is the GFA an independent country? Why can’t we halt them if they are not serving the best interest of the country?

Already, many football loving fans have lost interest in our national teams. The enthusiasm they use to support them is no longer the same. The corruption in our football sector is really alarming and needs to be addressed. We commend Mr. Anas for the wonderful work that he engaged in. In a bit to solve the issue, the government of Ghana through the attorney general and minister for justice took the matter to court to halt all football-related activities in the country.

The Federation of International Football Association on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, issued a statement to the government of Ghana giving the government two weeks to rescind its peddling in the activities of football. FIFA indicated that they have given the government the opportunity to resolve all problems or risk a suspension by the federation.

I want to say categorically that the people of Ghana are not afraid of FIFA and the sanctions that they intend to give. FIFA does not sponsor any of our football teams in the country. The rot in our football administration is still clear and as such we should allow government to help wipe it away.

The likes of Nigeria and Cameroon found themselves in such situation. FIFA suspended them for some years and after they came back to football action the two countries have been able to win the African cup, something we have failed to do so for about 30 years.

If we put this issue on hold or put it under the carpet and continue with all football activities in the country, we will still deal with these corrupt people. We cannot just bow to the pressure of FIFA to tell us to do things that are not in the best interest of the country. FIFA has got to respect the sovereignty of Ghana.

Our league has collapsed, for the past 5 years, the league we play in the country has not got any sponsor. The senior national team, the Black Stars of Ghana has not won any major tournament for about three decades. All these point to the shambolic nature of our football system. FIFA leave us to clear the mess and come back. Stop the undue pressure on the government. They know the system better than you do. They fund them and so must be accountable to them.

I do not think that FIFA is in support of corruption or are in favour of corrupt people. If we come back to football activities in the country, we will still be working with the institution that engaged in massive corruption.

Football is a business and if the people you engaged in such business are not interested, what do you do?

I do not deny the dangers that will come with any possible FIFA ban. I know we will be stripped off from all football activities. But we cannot use that as an excuse. Should we continue to die in corruption? Should we rash in our doings because of a certain FIFA ban? No!

We are behind the government. Do not kowtow to the undue pressure from an outsider. Be firm and resolute because your people are behind you. Dam all the consequences that will come. After the ban, we will rise again. Ghana must work again. Ghana will work again. YOUNG POSITIVIST a concerned citizen of Ghana.