When a referee tells undercover investigators that, he’s been cheating clubs and that it’s a business he’s already been undertaking, I need no telling that such a referee must have no place in football. This is what I saw in #12. A referee, under no duress, confessing to robbing clubs and taking pittance offered him by investigators to cheat more.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye team, on deep-seated suspicion of bribery in Ghana football, went underground to test referees. Not even our elite referees passed the test. They were flushed out of the game through sanctions. Suck the part on referees out of #12, and my view is, there isn’t much left. I decline further comments on the Nyantakyi angle in #12. The matter is still before a court of law.
What intrigues me however is the recent letter by the Referees Association of Ghana (RAG). Their letter announced that suspended #12 referees have been pardoned. That pardon letter leaves room for numerous questions. What’s the import of RAG’s pardon? What are they seeking to achieve? Exactly what message are they sending to the public?
RAG handed lifetime bans to six referees and banned 47 more for up to 10 years (BBC Sport, September 17, 2018 report). Does it mean the referees banned for life have their sanctions reversed? What accounts for the reversal? RAG in their press release after #12 exposé said: Referees with lifetime bans "were found culpable for seriously breaching various portions of Disciplinary and Ethical Code and Regulations of the football".
If RAG is pardoning referees caught in #12, we’ve got to ask whether anything has changed about the “serious breaches” of disciplinary and ethical codes they earlier cited four years ago. Has the ground on which they sanctioned their members changed?
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on August 5, 2018 sanctioned eight Ghanaian referees. The sanctions were 10-years to lifetime bans. CAF hasn’t yet said it has lifted the sanctions imposed on the eight referees caught by #12. They were FIFA referees. What’s RAG’s stance on the eight referees CAF delisted?
Isn’t CAF’s disciplinary action on them still in force? “Referees who have benefited from its gesture” RAG noted, have the opportunity to register for the 2021/22 season. What’s RAG talking about. Isn’t the 2021/22 season over? Is RAG suggesting that any of their pardoned referees will return to officiate in the Ghana Premier League?
I know it hurts to be tagged corrupt when you’re not. It’s good if referees caught in #12, move heaven and earth to clear their names and they’ve their association’s support. But, if RAG is embarking on a name-cleansing enterprise, they ought not to leave doubts in the public’s minds. Many questions linger on their pardon letter. Come again, RAG!