That the Normalisation committee’s mandate would be extended was as certain as death. And taxes.
The last five months have seen the Dr.Kofi Amoah led four-member committee unsuccessfully attempt to ‘bring back local football’. On the surface, the move appeared to be a genuine response to calls from clubs, fans and even players for some action on the local scene but a deeper probe reveals a pseudo-political manoeuvre which is akin to how gladiatorial Rome used sport to keep citizens and communities aligned.
Deliberate feet dragging
The initial six months handed the NC to clear the mess of the Nyantakyi administration may have been inadequate, but the deliberate feet dragging by the committee was clearly aimed at having their mandate extended.
It has fed perceptions and eroded the trust Ghanaians had in the committee upon their appointment. It is easy to list a number of things the committee has done in the six months after their appointment: they’ve only run the daily affairs of the GFA, a task which merely fulfils only one of their stated responsibilities.
The Normalization Committee was mandated by Fifa to among other things:
-Run the GFA’s daily affairs and cooperate with the special task force once it has been set up by FIFA, CAF and the Government of Ghana;
– Review the GFA statutes to ensure compliance with the requirements of FIFA and CAF, particularly art. 15 of the FIFA Statutes, and;
– Organise and conduct elections of a GFA executive committee on the basis of the revised GFA statutes once the GFA statutes meet the requirements of FIFA and CAF.
Running the daily affairs of the FA was a natural consequence of government’s U-turn on a hasty, earlier decision to liquidate the body, and the subsequent meetings between government and Fifa. It is these that culminated in the formation of the NC.
The various national teams had assignments to honor and the NC, naturally, had oversight responsibility since it replaced the GFA’s executive committee. In fairness, these tasks have been well handled by the normalization committee.
The committee also deserves credit for setting up the ad-hoc committees to work on various aspects of the reform process.
All well and good, until you see the rather dreary picture if you move from the responsibility of running FA business. Grave missteps, questionable conduct reminiscent of the Nyantakyi era, and a lack of trust for the committee by key stakeholders in the reform process.
All these now have the NC looking more like the regime it replaced, than the change agent it ought to be.
The consequence of a lack of local football is as farreaching as it is detrimental.
It extends beyond players being rusty or unfit for competitive football – as cited as one of the reasons for Asante Kotoko’s exit from the Caf Confederation Cup. Livelihoods are tied to the country’s topflight league. There are enormous financial ramifications for clubs. Add, to all these, the millions of football fans starved of action, and the NC’s decision to organize a Special Competition deserved commendation.
The (Premier League) clubs whose burden the competition was to supposedly alleviate were not willing to participate due to disagreements over money. The natural course of action by the NC would have been to leave it alone and focus on executing their mandate, or at the very least, focus on organizing the competition for the female clubs and the lower leagues.
To the extent that government has had to intervene, whether or not the intervention was solicited, raises a few questions:
- Why has the NC not reported government to Fifa since its involvement constitutes interference, assuming government’s intervention was unsolicited? Why was the NC determined to undertake a task it is not specifically mandated to undertake?
- Why is the NC bent on ensuring the Special Competition happens despite the clear lack of co-operation by the Premier League clubs?
- Is it a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that they’ve been in office for six months and done very little?
- Is it an attempt by the NC to prey on the desperation of football fans a la ancient Rome – where rulers used sports to keep citizens distracted while they pursued their own interests?
More of the same
The Special Competition, in my opinion, provides the perfect distraction from the fact very little has been achieved in six months.
Fans will not care how long the NC has been in office and how little they’ve done so long as their clubs are in action. Juxtapose that with a situation where the NC remains in office without action on the local scene after six months and we may be moving from mere conjecture to the sort of football politics Ghanaians are all too familiar with.
The former GFA President’s own smokescreen, for years, was Ghana’s three consecutive World Cup appearances between 2006 and 2014. It was the perfect distraction from the issues that required attention on the ground. The world looked away while he dubiously altered the statutes of the GFA, albeit with the consent of a compromised Congress, to legitimize his continuous stay in office.
He sidestepped numerous allegations of corruption partly because the Black Stars were doing well. It is telling that his downfall came in a year Ghana failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Ibrahim Sannie Daara, long a spokesperon of the FA, was perceived as an extension of Nyantakyi. For many, if Nyantakyi is corrupt, Saanie Daara would be guilty by association. For a man who was tasked with the responsibility of speaking on behalf of an unpopular regime, it is hard to see him warm hearts and make friends among the many disgruntled Ghanaian football fans.
How they have fared
Why am I bringing him into this?
Well, the NC’s spokesperson, Dan Kwaku Yeboah, was one of the harshest critics of the Nyantakyi administration but he appears to have taken a leaf straight out of Daara’s book. A press release signed by him last month to announce the cancellation of the Special Competition screamed emotional unintelligence. It stunk, coming from a professional communicator with over a decade’s worth of experience.
His call for applause for a member of the committee who had arrived late for a press briefing was discomfiting, and when a journalist, Ekow Asmah, chided the culprit (Dua Adonteng, a lawyer), the lawyer’s response was insipid in a moment an apology would have sufficed.
Lucy Quist’s credentials in Ghana’s corporate environs is nothing short of inspiring. In as much as the Ghana football reform process required a corporate brain, applying text-book corporate practices in football matters betrayed a lack of understanding and appreciation of the Ghana football terrain.
The mixture of sports and politics has never gone down well with the performers, administrators and other stakeholders. Admittedly, it is difficult to keep football and politics apart in a country where control of a public toilet screams politics, but efforts must be made.
The attempt by the NC to use the Black Stars Management Committee as bait for political favour is a slippery slope. There appears to be a subtle willingness to hand over control of Ghana football to the ruling political class. Party people have been handed seats on the team that are supposed to manage the country’s foremost football brand.
The danger is that if this is not checked the Black Stars management committee will become another avenue for ‘jobs for the boys’ where the machinations of create, loot, share and destroy will be in full force. The political underpinning of the disaster that was Brazil 2014 is not forgotten.
Going forward and the unwritten moral mandate
It comes to me as no surprise that six months after its appointment the NC in its current form will be no more.
The only member who remains standing is the chairman Dr. Kofi Amoah. The axing of Lucy Quist and Naa Odofoley Nortey is unfortunate but I have no sympathies for Dua Adonteng.
My opinion has always been that he wasn’t fit for purpose. It is not too clear what informed the decision to cut them loose but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that like many Ghanaians, Fifa hasn’t been impressed with how things have gone over the last six months.
The NC’s task of normalizing Ghana football is, to a large extent, what is stated on paper but there’s an unwritten expectation to leave a moral blueprint. Their actions and inactions must and will be a point of reference for the next GFA administration.
What is legal isn’t always ethical.
All that is ethical, within the context of Ghana football administration, will not be stated in black and white in the reviewed statutes of the GFA. Greed can be legitimized by law and when the next administration takes over there must be a reason not to tow a certain line even when it is legal. That reason lies in how the NC conducts itself.
The NC should be under no illusion, their work will forever echo in the echelons of Ghana football. The failures of the next GFA administration will be blamed on any lapses in the work of the NC.
The first six months in many ways have mirrored the abnormality of the regime we sort to move away from. The next six offer an opportunity for redemption and hope – hope that Ghana football will see a brighter day.