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African Cup Of Nations

FEATURE: What does interference mean in Ghana football?

Ace radio sports presenter, Dan Kwaku Yeboah of Peace FM fame, has been leading a crusade to find out how a government bungalow at the plush Airport Residential area in Accra, meant to house any coach for the Black Stars, has been turned into a GFA office.

For starters, Kwesi Appiah lived there when he was the national coach. It is said the government move is to stop the apparent uneconomic hotel expenditure on Black Stars trainers, especially the foreign ones.

Observers are puzzled why the almighty GFA has decided to turn this fine bungalow into an office in addition to their huge headquarters near the Kofi Annan Conference Centre in Accra.

One popular serial caller on radio sports programmes said he believed the GFA action is meant to prove to government the determination of the football people to shun any government interference in football affairs.

“They can’t dictate to us how to use our own property,” the serial caller added sarcastically.

I suspect the caller might have said all this in jest because the official announcement said in plain language the house had been donated for a particular purpose, that is permanent residence for the Black Stars coach.

I have heard some sports analysts ironically describing the GFA action as a move to prove to the world how powerful and autonomous they are. I sincerely hope this is not the case because such attitude, would clearly show how the so-called ‘government interference in football’ mantra could be carried to ridiculous lengths.

I think the time is ripe for all sports associations to accept the fact that there are two bodies, the National Sports Authority and the Ministry of Sports, that are mandated by the national constitution to promote and manage all sports disciplines in the country, FOOTBALL INCLUDED (emphasis mine).

You can’t tell me that with all the state funds voted to build football playing grounds nationwide, paying staff of both the NSA, and the Sports Ministry, and fully catering for all national teams in the various sports disciplines, the government should have no say in what goes in the various sports associations? It doesn’t make sense.

This bluff by the self-styled football people that they are so independent and
untouchable must stop.

It is agreed by all that football is arguably the topmost money spinning sports discipline globally but this should not turn its administrators into some kind of tin gods whose decisions and activities cannot be subject to public scrutiny.

This controversial issue of the misuse of a government bungalow meant for the Black Stars coach must be probed doubly quick.
The Sports Minister should step in at once and put things right.

The Black Stars Group is a national property and no individual or group of individuals must regard the team as their private property. Let’s not make fetish of FIFA’s ‘no interference’ mantra and allow some ‘latter day self-styled’ football people to have a field day throwing their weights about.

At this juncture, let me pay tribute to the memory of the just departed former Sports Minister, E.T. Mensah who actually made his presence felt as a hard working down to earth official always in the thick of affairs. May his busy soul rest in perfect peace.

Some of us are old enough to have witnessed the brilliant works of GFA bulwarks like Ohene Djan, Nyemitei, Nana Fredua Mensah, Dr Brew Graves, Justice Aboagye, Sam Okyere, S.K Mainoo, Zac Bentum, Nana Butler, Alhaji Jawula, Ben Kwofie and Co.

The present publicity conscious administrators should give us a break. It must be pointed out to them that even though FIFA backs FAs to manage football affairs to the exclusion of all others, it is not a licence for the FA to avoid accountability.

It is on record that former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter was rudely called to order by a High Court in his native Switzerland to explain some dubious FIFA financial dealings. This obviously means nobody is above the law in this global village.

The GFA must be accountable to the
state and I seriously suggest the Sports Minister should make his presence felt and protect government purse by calling the FA to order when they misbehave.

The year 2024 is going to be a busy sporting year starting with the Afcon in Ivory Coast in January, Ghana will then host the African Games in March to be followed by the Olympic Games in France.

My hunch about the Paris Olympics is the likely threat by certain French speaking West African nations to stage boycott for political reasons. It is my wish that the emerging anti-French sentiments in those countries will not lead to a boycott that would be most unfair for the sportsmen and sportswomen who might have trained in vain for honours at the biggest sports gathering in the world.

Talking about sports honours brings to mind my repeated suggestion to the GFA to organise a fitting ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Black Stars first Afcon triumph in 1963, which falls in December this year. It was that famous win, under the guidance of the legendary coach, C.K. Gyamfi that set the tone for two more triumphs in 1965 and 1978 for Ghana to win the original Abdul Aziz Cup for keeps.

Two years later, Nigeria won the new cup at home in 1980 but Ghana took over in Libya 1982. Admittedly, the cup has eluded Ghana since then but we can conveniently dovetail all the past four victories into a grand celebration before we set off for the next Afcon in next door.

In my view no celebration is big or small. Only a few countries have been four-time champions in the history of Afcon.

To refresh our memories, I present the pioneer winning Black Stars squad of 1963 that beat Sudan 3-0 in the final at Accra Stadium on Dec 1, 1963.

They are Aggrey Fynn (captain) Dodoo Ankrah, Franklin Crentsil Oblitey Owens, Addo Odametey, Ben Acheampong, Kwame Adarkwa, Ofei Dodoo, Wilberforce Mfum, Edward Acquah, Mohammed Salisu, Kofi Pare, Atta Kwame, E Graft, Agyeman Gyau, Joe Aikins, Osei Kofi, Leonard Acquah.

Research shows the only surviving legends of 1963 are goalkeeper Dodoo Ankrah, Kofi Pare, Wilberforce Mfum, Osei Kofi and Leonard Acquah. They can easily be special guests at the proposed diamond jubilee celebration of the Black Stars’ Afcon triumph.

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports!

Credit: Ken Bediako

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