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African Cup Of Nations

Afcon Diary 12: Love goes where love is… Save Ghana football!

The organisers of the football protest could not have chosen a better date. The demonstration is planned for Wednesday, February 14, 2024, Valentine’s Day.

When Kurt Okraku became the President of the Ghana Football Association, GFA, the target of the demonstrators, he devised a clever slogan – ‘Bring Back the Love.’

It was apt. The fortunes of football – the league, national teams and infrastructure – were all in the doldrums. Bringing back the love summed up the task before him and his football executives. Now, he may have to ponder the wisdom in the saying, ‘Love goes where love is…’

Ghana’s misery was Ivory Coast’s gain as the Elephants went all the way to lift the trophy after squeezing through to the knockout rounds only after the Black Stars faltered against Mozambique

The GFA is not the only target of the protest. Indeed, this demonstration is for, rather than against, something. It is for where the love is…

For many decades, Ghanaians had an abiding romance with the beautiful game. In the early years of statehood, under the first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his able Director of Sports, Ohene Djan, football was one of the nation’s articles of faith. We knew we could rely on football for a lift if everything failed us. Successive governments and football administrations have tried to sustain our self-belief. The difference is that now there is nothing to sustain.

Indeed, this has gone beyond football. There was a time when Ghana was the best boxing nation in the Commonwealth, the best table tennis team in Africa, the best sprint quartet in the Commonwealth, and, of course, the best footballing nation in Africa. We were the first to win the CAF cup for keeps after clocking three wins.

Journalist Countryman Songo is among the leaders of Wednesday’s demo against the administrators of Ghana football

We however failed to see the writing on the wall when the other disciplines’ structures collapsed, not even with a whimper. Today, we are not the best in anything; past glory can only take you so far.

But the tragedy of our fall from grace is a human invention. It did not just happen. Those who know say that we have been blindsided by the people put into office to look after our football – the ‘football people.’

The phrase ‘football people’ has come to represent a football priesthood, an untouchable elite for whom the injunction is perpetual: touch not my anointed. Football people are anointed, not by experience on the playing field, but in the backrooms where the art of wheeling and dealing has become the flip side of our failure and shame. Think about it: someone made money, maybe a pile, when the Black Stars lost to Comoros.

So, it is right and proper that we rescue football before we lose it completely. The idea that those who have caused the failure can repair it is ludicrous. Anywhere else in the world, the football people would have offered to resign, if nothing at all, to test our pulse. It won’t happen here, and cocooned in the touch not my anointed mentality, they have no desire even to share our pain.

The football protest must be a national endeavour. The message is simple: we want to go where the love is. We want our football back.

Indeed, bring back the love on St Valentine’s Day.

Credit: Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng (

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