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FEATURE: Tension between GFA President and his vice is not healthy for Ghana football

Published on: 31 July 2017

 

I am calling on the Ministry of Youth and Sports and other powers that be to help resolve the reported differences between Kwesi Nyantakyi and George Afriyie, the President and the Vice President respectively of the Ghana Football Association.

The contretemps that currently exists between the two topmost administrators spells danger for the country's football development.

At the recently held WAFU draw at the Labadi Hotel, in what was their first public appearance following a heavily speculated clash weeks ago, the duo openly snubbed each other, refusing to exchange pleasantries.

Background

Nyantakyi and his lieutenant were the best of friends both far and near. In fact, George Afriyie once vowed in a radio interview that he will defend Nyantakyi to the latter.

The two had been enjoying a fruitful relationship without any tension what so ever between them until last year when it was suddenly reported that they were in a political thug of war.

The reports further explained that Kwesi Nyantakyi had accused Afriyie of aligning himself with Nii Lantey Vaderpuye, the Sports Minister at the time, who was infamously at logger heads with the Ghana Football Association.

It took a Ghanaian football big wig like Joseph Yaw Appiah, the former Chairman of the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), to settle the impasse between the duo.

Nyantakyi and his Veep had since been seen as being in good talking terms. Indeed, after the incumbent leader declared his intention not to contest for the 2019 elections, Afriyie was tipped by many as the heir apparent.

However, the current climate suggests the old wounds have been opened. It is understood that George Afriyie sent a harsh text message to his boss accusing him of being greedy, adding that Nyantakyi should "take your FA" as he wants nothing more to do with the organization.

The feud has become more intense. According to journalists who covered the WAFU draw, as well as fans who saw it live on TV, there was a thick cloud of hostility hovering around the two. The scenes told a story of deep seated friction.

George Afriyie was the first of the two to arrive at the venue for the draw, followed by Kwesi Nyantakyi - who arrived in the company of the Youth and Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah as well as the veteran administrator Nanabeyin Ayison.

Nyantakyi conspicuously skipped greeting Afriyie, going on to greet the next person seated by the latter. This snub was duly reciprocated. Afriyie, who is the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2017 WAFU tournament, decided not to sit at the high table where the dignitaries were seated due to the obvious suspicion.

And after the programme, they went their separate ways without uttering a word to each other, which was highly unusual, stoking the speculation of their 'beef'.

Consequences

As already opined above, this conflict between the two heavyweights in Ghana football spells doom. And if it persists Ghana’s image will be at stake as we host the WAFU Cup in September. This tournament has brought together sixteen nations from West Africa to compete for $100,000.

Nyantakyi is the President of WAFU zone B and George Afriyie is the chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the tournament, hence they both have a major stake with regards to the success of the 2017 WAFU Championship

However, the two appear not to see eye to eye and this would make it very difficult for them to collaborate and help Ghana have a successful tourney.

Away from the WAFU there should be a cordial relationship to help in the day to day administration of the Ghana Football Association. As the key members of the five-man Emergency Committee of the GFA, they are the driving forces of the beautiful game in the country. They ensure the implementation of the decisions taken at the Executive Committee level to arrest some of the challenges facing Ghana football.

n addition to the above George Afriyie is the Chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee and he needs to report to his boss about the daily activities of Ghana’s flagship national team whenever they are in camp. He needs to liaise with Nyantakyi by ensuring programmes are drawn for the Black Stars. The two would have to work together for the next two years and they have two big tasks on their hands - to propel Ghana to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018 and also see the four-time African champions book a place in the 2019 continental showpiece in Cameroon by putting in place favorable conditions to make them happen.

Truth be told what we saw during the WAFU draw could spiral our of control. And when things turn even more uglier, it Ghanaian football progress that will pay the ultimate price. As the saying goes: when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.

The Way forward

I believe the issue between Nyantakyi and his vice is not personal in nature. because the two are managing Ghana’s products which are our national football teams.

Look, Ghanaians are passionate about football. The country always comes to a standstill to witness the Black Stars play at the highest level. The joy of seeing our national teams excel can’t be quantified. Hence, this issue has become dear to every Ghanaian’s heart. In the  end we want to see a heathy atmosphere in the Ghana Football Association to help promote the growth of the beautiful game in our country. The Nyantakyi-Afriyie battle compromises this.

I think one of these three decisions should be taken in the next couple of days to salvage the nation from potential shame and retrogression.

Nyantakyi as it stands now has the power to sack George Afriyie if the text message he reportedly received came from latter. He has every right to bring on board someone he thinks he is comfortable working with.

In this life, we always work with people whom we are comfortable dealing with and have some level of trust in.

It is better than letting him hold on to his post while being rendered redundant.

Secondly Nyantakyi, as the father of Ghana football, can be the bigger person by rekindling his relationship with the owner of Eastern region- based Okyeman Planners.back to himself if the Truth be told, such conflicts can be resolved with the needed patience and understanding. Nyantakyi should compare the good memories he's had with Afriyie and weigh them with the bad moments, and if the good outweighs the bad, I think he should retain him and mend the patches.

I know George Afriyie to be a dedicated person especially with matters regarding the Ghana Football Association. He mostly appears to be the lone man standing whenever the GFA is accused of wrongdoing by the media or the public. He has been ranting on radio and TV to protect the image of the football governing body in Ghana. Nyantakyi might still need his lieutenant moving forward. Our elders say even the teeth and the tongue fight, yet still never part ways.

On the other the hand, the Director of Liberty Professionals can also approach Nyantakyi and try to smoke the peace pipe. He should sacrifice his ego on the altar of reconciliation and let it happen. Old friends I believe are the best.

However, if the above proposals fail to work out, some powers higher than the duo like the Sports Ministry or the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth and Sports should call them to order by serving as arbiters.

They should remember that they are managing the products of the state, which are our national teams, so anything they do concerns the state.

Again, past GFA chairmen such as Nana Brew Butler, Awuah Nyamekye and Alhaji MND Jawula also need to add their voices to the happenings. All hands must be on deck to extinguish this destructive fire before it burns down Ghana's footballing future.

 

Credit: Thomas Freeman Yeboah

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