I sometimes feel that the over three months that I spent to cover the proceedings of the Dzamefe Presidential Commission for the Brazil 2014 World Cup saga was a waste of time. But I usually take consolation from the deep revelations that came out of both the public and in-camera sittings.
One of such disappointing revelations was a proverbial statement made by the then president of the Ghana Football Association (now former), Kwesi Nyantakyi, to the effect that the beneficiaries of the 'co-efficient' booty from the World Cup transcended the Youth and Sports Ministry.
No matter how innocuous, I thought that was a serious indictment on the powers that be, which should have warranted an immediate action from the then government. But that was not to be as the issue was cooly swept under the carpet as if no such statement was ever made at the Commission up to date.
The impression created is simply that probing into such sensitive matters could be like stirring the hornet’s nest or opening a can of worms. No wonder the state has since failed to implement the recommendations of the White Paper on the Dzamefe Commission's report, let alone sanction the perpetrators.
I was beside myself with shock when I read from the report that one Black Stars Management Committee member and a beneficiary of the co-efficient money virtually turned down the Commission's invitation for an in-camera interaction obviously because he felt so embarrassed to disclose his share of the booty. Yet still, some others who decided to respond to the call simply told the three-member commission that they felt uncomfortable to disclose the amounts they respectively received. These are public figures who are still making noise all over the place. Lord have mercy!
The question is: If you have a clear conscience that you really worked for such money, why should anybody run away from the day of accountability or refuse to disclose figures publicly or in-camera? The underlying factor is that the entire system is corrupt! It's so sad that Nyantakyi has been made the scapegoat under the circumstance, as if to confirm the saying that 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.'
It is unfortunate that Nyantakyi has been banned by FIFA after 13 years of service as the GFA president. He has entered the history books as the longest-serving GFA president and also as the only one to have led Ghana to three successful senior FIFA World Cups in 2006, 2010 and 2014, among others. That is no mean achievement!
Conversely, the excesses in his administration has also earned him an unenviable tag as the only GFA president to have been banned for life by FIFA. Until his intended appeal is heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the life ban will still hang around his neck like an albatross. What a sad end to such a promising future.
No matter how loudly we celebrate or how silently we mourn, the lessons to be learnt from the rise and fall of Nyantakyi are too visible to ignore. Fact is, the system is so corrupt that even the most sanctimonious angel can fall into the same trap. I am not referring to the GFA alone. Let's stop the hypocrisy and get real!
Quite recently, a former member of the GFA, Mr Aloysius Denkabe (now a Professor of English at the University of Ghana), earned my respect when he made a sincere statement in a radio interview to the effect that the problems facing the GFA today began right from Nyantakyi's first term from 2005 to 2010. That means he and everyone who served on the first term Executive Committee (Excos) that qualified Ghana to her first FIFA World Cup are a part of the problem.
That was the genesis of the present rot. Subsequent Excos merely built on that defective foundation.
The president of New Edubiase United, Abdul Salam Yakubu, nailed the coffin in an interview with Happy FM barely a fortnight ago when he stated categorically that every club owner in Ghana, from the Premier League to Division Two, is guilty of paying bribe to referees. That wild allegation, though embarrassing and quite disturbing, is another major cause of the crisis facing Ghana Football today.
That reminds me of an interesting incident which happened at a forum in the past where the forthright Alhaji Gruzah dared his fellow club owners and administrators to openly declare if they had not bribed referees before. Sadly, not a single hand went up to prove him wrong.
Many years on, the New Edubiase United boss has also come out to make a similar allegation and not a single voice has countered it since. On face value, that seems to justify the usual claim by referees that club officials are the main problem when it comes to bribery and corruption.
After all, if there is no giver in the first place, a receiver will be non-existent. That means the givers and the takers are the problem! Let's weed them out now!
While the Normalisation Committee (NC) seeks to clean the system, the role of clubs towards eradicating bribery and corruption should be paramount. Apart from inducing referees, clubs are also guilty of playing matches of convenience as and when they please to satisfy their whims and caprices. If we can behave like this, how do we expect the public to take the league serious?
The cancer of bribery and corruption has eaten so deep into the game that dealing with only referees would be just a scratch on the surface. There should be serious sanctions on offending clubs and officials as part of measures to purge the system and also deter others from indulging in the same practice.
As a top GFA official suggested a few days ago, what the NC needs now to strengthen the institution are structural reforms other than regulatory reforms. For instance, it is high time the GFA considered recruiting referees and training them instead of leaving such a sensitive part of the game in the hands of an independent body and merely providing them with uniform and allowances for matches and recommending them to CAF and FIFA.
A word to the wise...