The Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) has called on the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to put its house in order and to take every step necessary as a matter of urgency, to resolve its dispute against Accra Great Olympics and others that threaten the smooth running of the domestic calendar.
The dispute has already thrown the FA’s calendar out of gear following two injunctions placed by Olympics on the start of the 2017/18 Ghana Premier League and other domestic competitions.
In a press statement signed by its president, Kwabena Yeboah, SWAG noted that the ongoing dispute with Olympics, which has landed in court after the two parties failed to reach an amicable settlement, and other cases brought before Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sports by Ghanaian clubs, provide a cause for concern.
The present situation, according to SWAG, are important red flags for the FA and all major stakeholders in Ghana football to, as a matter of urgency, take another look at some of the regulations, administrative procedures and operations, including those of the FA’s judicial bodies, which hinder speedy delivery of justice, create mistrust and suspicion, and provide fertile grounds for aggrieved clubs and individuals to seek justice outside the structures set up to adjudicate football cases.
More than ever before, there is the need for the FA to take all steps necessary to create more transparency in its operations and ensure and speedy determination of cases, through continuous reforms that builds trust into the system and prevents the situation the FA currently finds itself with so much uncertainty hanging round the commencement of the football season.
SWAG is of the firm conviction that a well-run administrative setup, backed by good record-keeping and a very effective judicial system which ensures swift delivery of cases, will not only reduce the tendency for aggrieved parties to turn to the civil courts for justice, but also ensure the football calendar is not unnecessarily disrupted.
There is no doubt that the delayed start of the league is causing dire financial stress for the clubs and is making the competition less attractive to corporate bodies, not to talk to its effect on the performance on Ghana’s representatives in CAF competitions, Aduana Stars and Kumasi Asante Kotoko, who began their campaigns ill-prepared.
While SWAG looks forward to a swift determination of the ongoing GFA-Great Olympics case in court, it is very worried about what appears to be a lack of political will by the FA to strictly enforce its own rules, and also other disturbing developments in the case, particularly allegations that referee Reginald Lathbridge was allowed to alter his report seven clear months after he officiated in the match. Such incidents breed suspicion, deepen perceptions of corruption and further dent the image of the game.
As direct stakeholders in Ghana football, SWAG cannot watch unconcerned while avoidable and sometimes self-inflicted problems roll back the clock of progress, at a time when other leagues in Africa and around the world are near the half-way mark, yet a cloud of uncertainty surrounds the commencement of domestic competitions in Ghana.
The world is definitely not waiting for Ghana, especially as so much time has been spent doing nothing. And with just three months to the start of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, SWAG believes that the current situation calls for smart thinking and solutions by the GFA, such as the organisation of a novelty league that would end with the World Cup to enable Ghana. Such a measure would enable them to finally achieve the long cherished dream of synchronising its calendar with the rest of the world.
The GFA must do all it can to restore the integrity of the game by continuously working to ensure a level playing field for all parties, and building of trust into the operations of its judicial bodies, which, rightly or wrongly, have been a source of many of recent disputes that have jolted the football calendar and made it very difficult to synchronise it with the rest of the world in the last few years.
SWAG concludes that, in a year that Ghana is missing the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the GFA must not be struggling to get its domestic competitions running. Instead, it should rather be preoccupied with finding smart solutions to raising the standard of the game to attract more sponsors, and ultimately get Ghana to conquer Africa at the 2019 AFCON and qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.