It’s alright to feel bad for people and institutions who fall foul of the law and are consequently punished but when football clubs and their officials congregate to fix matches, there should be no mercy or tears over their demotion or form of sanctions they suffer for their selfish, mindless, greedy conduct.
Ashantigold and Inter Allies as widely reported have been demoted from the Premier and the Division One Leagues respectively to the Division Two League as punishment for predetermining the outcome of their match day 34 Ghana Premier League fixture last season. Besides the seemingly hefty fines, some officials and players of the two clubs have as well been banned for between two and ten years.
Media reports indicate Ashantigold have filed an appeal seeking a stay of execution of the ruling and ultimately a reversal of the GFA’s decision on them. It’s good the door for appeal wasn’t shut on Ashantigold or Inter Allies but no tears for any of them. No tears because, we can’t pretend to like our football and within that same space tolerate acts that by every description, tear apart the competitiveness and beauty of our game in the eyes of right-thinking people both home and abroad.
We should shed no tears because Ghana football in recent years, have been unduly battered by petty corruption and every effort to rid it of that dirt should be lauded. Again, no tears because this is a GPL competition that’s been deprived of fine corporate sponsorship chiefly on account of poor, unprofessional conduct displayed by the very people who’ve been complaining about the lack of sponsorship for the game.
From playing on terrible pitches to dubious refereeing, substandard administration to increasing incidents of violence, certain dispositions of key actors in the GPL have constantly pushed back the interests of the corporate community. So, if decisions like severely punishing match-fixing clubs will restore a bit of sanity, I’m all for that.
Some football people have questioned the timing of the release of the GFA’s ruling. Here’s the problem. We’ve been on the neck of the GFA to make public its findings on the Ashantigold-Inter Allies match. Broadcast journalist, Saddick Adams broke the story of the Police CID not conducting any investigations into the case. The GFA asked for more time insisting that it was thoroughly working to ensure that justice is served.
If the GFA had published the ruling after this season, we would’ve asked why they waited for the season to end. Now that they’ve done what’s roundly positive, we’re strangely faulting them over the timing of the release. It’s either we’re clueless about what’s good for our football or that we’re so ignorant of the danger corruption poses to the development of our game, such that, we assume we can fight match-fixing anyhow.
We can’t disarm the cancerous worm of corruption with indecision or cowardice. If the GFA has the law on their side, they’ve to apply it without fear or favour. That’s what they’ve done. We must commend them although I don’t side with the ruling’s failure to expel Ashantigold from this season’s league. I’m at a loss why their demotion takes effect from next season and not now.
How would they play their remaining matches this season? Where would be sporting integrity in their matches from now — first of which comes on Thursday against Kotoko? We wait to see what will happen and we’re free to agree or disagree with the GFA on the latest development. The ruling, for me, sends clear signals on match fixing. I like that. Thank you, GFA.