When I was a little boy of about 12 years old, I had an uncle who was a banker by profession but whose true passion was football.
One sunny, breezy afternoon, he came home for lunch with a slim, handsome man whose smile and charisma could strike a pathway in the darkest of clouds and bring in bright sunshine and happy feelings…
This charismatic, handsome man touched my hair and playfully pulled my ears, and the warmth of his hands and the beauty and magic of his smile have stayed with me till this day, and I count myself lucky for that encounter of long ago…
That man was the legendary Baba Yara, Baba Yara, Baba Yara…
And I’m sure several of you here have your own memorable moments in football which you cherish
We are all part of this great global tribe whose distinct language is football and I’m glad to be a part!
- Honourable Minister of Sports and Members of Parliament
- Our friends from FIFA, Mr. Luca Nicola and Mr. Solomon Mudege
- Distinguished delegates of GFA Congress
- Friends and partners from the Media
- Distinguished invited guests
- Ladies and Gentlemen
We of the Normalization Committee of the Ghana Football Association, Miss Naa Odofoley Nortey, Sammy Osei Kufour and myself together with top management and staff of the GFA Secretariat greet you warmly
GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING…
I stand before you today with malice towards no one but with a heart full of hope and promise for the revival, the restructuring and the positive development of a Ghana football enterprise. And I’m confident and aware that we all share these sentiments together, and therefore we are hopeful that this Congress today will be a watershed in the history of Ghana football, a turning point for the development of a modernfootball enterprise, not only for the exhibition of the beauty and wizardry of our game, but for the significant improvement in infrastructure, operations, administration and financial strength of a Ghana Football Enterprise!
Ladies and Gentlemen, for this Congress to discuss and adopt new statutes for the GFA, we believe it to be prudent to briefly catalogue the series of activities and events that have culminated in the Draft GFAStatutes and Election Regulations tabled here today.
The GFA Normalization Committee as you all know is an offspring of discussions and negotiations between the Government of Ghana and FIFA/CAF that ensued after the airing of a video in Ghana and on the BBC that revealed some unacceptable rot in the administration and operations of the Ghana football Association.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is important to state clearly what the NC’s specific mandate “is”… as opposed to the broader and all-encompassing mandate ascribed by some pundits and upon which all sorts of judgments have been assigned to the NC’s capabilities or lack thereof.
This is not a defensive posture by any means but it is an essential and critical clarification that must be made to underpin a rather longer process of actions and steps that the next GFA administrationmust undertake to truly reform Ghana football wholesomely.
Firstly, sanitizing Ghana football laws and regulations is a prerequisite that must happen before we can build a modern profitable Ghana Football Enterprise
And hence the mandate of the NC was designed to accomplish this first indispensable prerequisite of drafting the Statutes and the regulatory framework that will help guide, monitor, referee and sanction football activities to be healthy, smooth and profitable
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Draft Statutes and Election Regulations in your hands are these required prerequisite, in conjunction with the GFA Regulations, the FIFA and CAF statutes, for the road we must travel to create that modern and profitable Ghana Football Enterprise… and I know Ghana can do it… because we have done it before!
Along with the key mandate of reviewing and drafting the GFA statutes, the NC also had a mandate of overseeing the daily operations and activities of the GFA and these included several international competitions for our national teams; all these assignments were carried out appropriately even though we did not come home with a haul of medals
On the domestic front, we organized the NC Special Competition in a novelty format comprising the Premier and Division One Clubs
Arrangements were made by the NC to have all the key matches produced and broadcast free-to-air on GTV to reach all corners of Ghana for the enjoyment of any Ghanaian home with a Televisionset
The media were engaged to help hype the upcoming matches and this helped tremendously to attract fans to match venues and on television. The interest in football in Ghana was gradually rising and this strategy of consistently televising matches supported by media analysis and promotion must be sustained to help generate maximum viewing on all platforms and help grow the interest of Ghana football fans; This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is an important requirement for developing a sponsorship platform to enhance revenues to the League Clubs
Unfortunately several of the desired outcomes from the competitions fizzled out due to the inability to abide by financial commitments made to the Clubs, Referees, Match Commissioners, Venue Officers, Cameramen etc. the lesson here which must be forcefully underlined is that human behavior responds positively to promises made and kept ; the response is negative when promises are unkept. And we need to reinforce positive policy directions and sustain them
Clubs, Match officials and various entities have only been paid recently for winning bonuses and earned fees for officiating etc. funds that should have been paid several weeks ago!
The general success of the NC Special Competition also included the selection of two Ghanaian Clubs for the 2019 CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup which were deservedly won by Kumasi Asante Kotoko FC and Ashgold FC respectively. We wish both of them the best of luck and they have our full support. We wish to also appeal to corporate Ghana to join and assist as the success of these two clubs will elevate “Brand Ghana” and hence also put a shine on corporate Ghana and their export products and services
In executing the Statutes review mandate, we first met with almost all football constituents and other keystakeholders. This approach, we believe, was important to help the NC understand from these constituents their view of what had gone wrong with Ghana football and most importantly their suggestions and comments for reform
The meetings were cordial, sometimes heated due to deep passions but overall they concluded positively with good ideas and suggestions
These, ladies and Gentlemen, were the meetings held:
- Football constituents/bodies
- Clubs owners and Administrators
- Referees, Match Commissioners
- Technical staff of the Black Stars (Coach)
- Technical staff of all the national teams
- Players Reps (Male, Female)
- PFAG (Professional Footballers association of Ghana)
- Sports Ministry
- Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth ,Sports and Culture
- The Media
Radio, Print, TV, Outline platforms
- H.E The President of Republic of Ghana
- FIFA/GOG Task Force
- Attended 2 Ordinary Congress (1 FIFA in Paris, 1 CAF in Cairo)
1 Extra-Ordinary Congress (CAF – Sharma el Sheik)
- Meetings with Corporate Ghana on Sponsorship matters – Banks, Telcos, Embassies (UK), Representatives of Spanish, Italian and English Leagues
Major sponsorship was received from GPNC to support the NC Special Competition. We are grateful to GNPC.
- The NC called on the football community, individuals and the general public to provide suggestions and ideas that could help with the restructuring process and we were fortunate to receive quite a few, including from GHALCA, your umbrella body. As for the bashing and insults on radio, they are plenty and become more colorful with each passing day!
- Formation of 6no ADHOC Committees made up of some of the most accomplished individuals in their fields of endeavor. We are compiling the excellent reports each Committee presented that can serve as a reference manual for football practitioners, students and researchers interested in football and sports in general
They covered areas that may help advice on football development policy, public and private sector investments in football supportedwith specific tax incentives and subsidies, as well as academic training to ensure the proper and wholesome development of Ghana’s youth in football
It is most telling that the huge investments that Ghana governments make in football are invariably towards the national teams and especially the Black Stars, made up of mostly Ghanaian players who ply their trade in Europe and elsewhere, whilst the local players and the local football clubs, the crucibles of Ghana football’s past and future, are left to fend for themselves under trying circumstances. We believe this calls for a rethink and re-allocation of these huge expenditures to favor the development of the gameat home and the strengthening of our local leagues. The strength and economic contribution of the nation’s football to its GDP can only materialize if the local league is made stronger and profitable. If we achieve this, Ghana’s young football players can be paid much better and help quench their insatiable dreams and preference to be sold to foreign clubs. Such dreams are not helpful to developing andsustaining a vibrant and profitable domestic football enterprise
There have been a few national football development proposals and plans in the past but, Ladies and Gentlemen, these have all been forgotten and replaced with adhoc, unplanned and unstrategised dreams of grandeur. We conjure our past glories as the basis for winning medals in the present forgetting that there are new kids from other nations who are hungrier and more prepared
Yes we are a fine football nation, rich in talent and tradition… and yes we can let our past glories inspire and encourage us but I’m afraid we will have to get on the drawing board to re plan and invest properly
- Retraining of about 150 Referees by FIFA/CAF instructors to help freshen up their technical knowledge and to discuss honesty and transparency in refereeing. At end of the four days exercise, the referees proclaimed their hallelujahs and we clapped…..hoping for improvement in the art of refereeing in Ghana. We have more to do here
- We launched the NC Special Competition with the intention to test credible solutions proffered for dealing with some of the most unacceptable and alarming problems afflicting Ghana football namely,
- a) Paltry attendance of matches by fans leading to low match day ticket revenues
- b) Lack of consistency in broadcasting football matches on television resulting in the lack of TV production and broadcast rights revenues as well as the absence of corporate sponsorship interests and hence sponsorship revenues
- c) Lack of Payment of Sponsorship and Participation fees to clubs to help them get ready for the competition and finance the costs of transportation, accommodation and feeding of players
- d) Payment of adequate winning bonuses to clubs to help cover their competition expenses and player salaries and bonuses
- e) The need to engage the media to help hype and promote football matches and help drive attendance at match venues but most importantly attract viewership on television, the key platform for generatingrevenue in football
- f) The appropriateness of match venues centers as per GFA Club Licensing requirements in the key areas of pitch quality, safety and security of players, referees and spectators
- g) The NC also conferred with other Federations on our continent and elsewhere as well as review the structure and operations of other Federations to help understand and possibly apply selected best practice arrangements that may be helpful in the case of Ghana
- h) And all along we were in touch and in discussions with our assigned FIFA colleagues who were always supportive but firm on the proper rules for guidance
- i) And the culmination of all the work of the NC is the draft statutes approved by FIFA and presently in the hands of you the delegates of the GFA Congress assembled here today
The adoption of these statutes as your own is what is needed to trigger the next phase of selecting/electing the organs and bodies of the Ghana Football Association and return Ghana football activities, operations and development to you brothers and sisters of the football community
The NC appreciates the opportunity to work with all of you, and the pieces of advice received from manyof you. Believe me, we truly listened! And we also appreciate and applaud the collaboration and assistance received from FIFA especially our lead contacts Mr. Luca Nicola, Manager of Governance, Mr. Veron Mosengo-Omba, Manager of Development for the African and Caribbean area, Mr. Solomon Mudege and others as well as indirectly with Madam Fatma Samoura, GS/FIFA, Mr. Ahmad Ahmad, CAF President and Mr. Gianni Infantino, FIFA President
A great kudos and ovation goes to our own President Akufo-Addofor his direct involvement with the top echelon of CAF and FIFA during the emotionally charged atmosphere in which many Ghanaians wereangry in the aftermath of the ANAS No 12 video. This personal interaction of our President hit a chord of a once great African Football nation whose bright lights have dimmed and whose top political leader at thetime felt the need to crystalize the issue for Global football chiefdom to appreciate and understand. President Infantino and his top brass were touched and declared to the amazement of football-loving observers that
“Never again shall football administrators be allowed to hide behind FIFA and CAF statutes and commit various acts of malfeasance. Let FIFA and Government of Ghana form a task force and use FIFA statutes and the laws of Ghana to prosecute and punish acts of proven malfeasance in football”
Ghana, he said, will be the test case and if it goes well the task force policy direction shall be rolled over to other Federations in Africa and elsewhere
This is a landmark breakthrough and we must applaud President Akufo-Addo, President Infantino, Madam Fatma Samoura and President Ahmed Ahmed for this historic and landmark bridge that will create FIFA and Independent States crossover legislation for exorcising malfeasance from football
Its implementation and application architecture is now under consideration and development by FIFA and Government of Ghanalawyers
It is also important for this Congress to embrace this new landmark opening that should help focus our energies more on football development and less on the discussion of football politics and issues of bad governance.
I wish the Congress fruitful deliberations today and I pray for the rediscovery of our nation’s football prowess that was, has presently dimmed but together with respect towards one another and with determined dedication to rebuild, we shall triumph again and rise to the top of global football
May God bless Ghana Football
September 5th, 2019