Asante Kotoko facing demotion over $240,000 FIFA fine

Published on: 20 April 2020

Ghana's most successful club, Asante Kotoko are appealing for fans to help with paying a $240,000 fine - one that, if not paid, puts them at risk of relegation.

The Porcupine Warriors have been told they have until 10 May to hand over the money for the fine, which followed Fifa's final verdict on a legal battle with Tunisian giants Esperance over the transfer of striker Emmanuel Clottey in 2015 and midfielder Kwame Bonsu in 2019.

If this is not done, Kotoko face relegation to Ghana's second tier. But with coronavirus having dramatically reduced the amount of money in football at the present moment, the club are reaching out to supporters to ask for help in making the payment.

''Kotoko supporters have always been there for the club in good times and bad time - it is something the supporters have always been doing for the club," Kennedy Boakye Ansah, Communications Director of Asante Kotoko, told BBC Sport Africa.

"The supporters' leadership have started to mobilise support for the club."

Kotoko were sanctioned by Fifa for breach of contract, although Ansah claimed that the breach was actually between Esperance and Emmanuel Cottey, with Kotoko as an intervening party.

Nevertheless, the fine has been placed on the club.

'It is either Kotoko pays the $240,000 or the player in question pays. As we speak, the player can't afford that kind of money,'' said Ansah.

The history of the legal battle over Clottey's move goes back five years, to when Fifa initially fined them $180,000 after the player joined Kotoko ''as a free agent'' while having an existing contract with Esperance.

The Kumasi giants did pay the Fifa fine at the time, defending themselves on the grounds that they were not aware Clottey had a contract with Esperance.

So when Esperance signed Kwame Bonsu for $150,000 in 2019, they deliberately failed to pay his transfer fee.

Kotoko wrote to Esperance for the transfer fee of Bonsu but the Tunisian side instead referred the matter to Fifa, and appealed to the world football body to re-open Emmanuel Clottey's transfer saga.

"Esperance owes us $150,000 and we have 15% share on the onward transfer of player Kwame Bonsu," Ansah explained.

"So we proposed to Esperance that we were going to forfeit our $150,000 and then will use the 15% as collateral to offset the remainder of the money. Unfortunately, Esperance never gave us a favourable response and then the Fifa decision came on 9 April,' he added.

Fifa have now instructed Kotoko to pay an additional $45,000 as interest on the $180,000 and a legal fee of $15,000.

''We have no option than to comply and pay the fine of $240,000. We wanted to settle for a barter agreement but we did not hear anything from Esperance. So we have to go ahead and pay our fine. The payment will be made to Esperance. Fifa has $15,000 for their legal fees.''

But the Porcupine Warriors are struggling to raise funds to pay the fine and have resorted to the benevolence of their supporters worldwide.

First vice chairman of the Asante Kotoko Supporters club, Nana Kwame Dankwah, told BBC Sport Africa that the group is doing everything within its reach to raise the necessary funds.

''We have taken it upon ourselves to get our supporters worldwide to contribute. We are waiting on an authorization from the executive chairman of the club for us to embark on the mission of raising the funds.''

This is not the first time the PorcupineWwarriors will be falling back on their fans to pay up a fine. The supporters have a famous history of helping the clubs during a financial predicament.

''In 2002, we did a similar exercise to support the team then we were playing a cup final. In 2010, we were also fined by Fifa in similar circumstances, the then management wrote to us the supporters appealing for funds and the fans responded positively,'' said Dankwah.

The management of Kotoko have come under criticism for their poor handling of the situation which has led to the heavy fine.

"We are not in a position to place blame now," said Dankwah.

"Now is the time to come together and help the club. When this is over, we can come together as a family and review the situation and advise ourselves."

Ansah believes the club has ''learned its lessons''.

Kotoko, Ghana's most successful club, have won the Ghanaian Premier League 23 times.