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Anas exposé How the GFA President shot himself in the foot

Kwesi Nyantakyi's reputation has suffered a major blow following Anas exposé

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play How the GFA President shot himself in the foot
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Sometime last year, Kwesi Nyantakyi, in order to prove a point that the Ghana Football Association (GFA), which he heads, is an institution of integrity, made an announcement at a summit he organized to sanitize the association.

He said that to curb bribery and corruption in the game of football in the country, a sum of GHC 20, 000 will be given to people who could provide evidence to support their claims.

The GFA had also said in the past that they would be glad to hire the services of the multiple award winning investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas to investigate and expose corruption within the FA, but little did they know that Anas would spring up on the institution unannounced. The masked crusader released his latest work, dubbed Number 12, on Wednesday and Thursday at the Accra International Conference Centre, Accra.

Football has been the passion of many Ghanaians since time immemorial. Kwame Nkrumah used football as a tool in his desire to achieve a united Africa. It was through him that the first African Champions Cup, currently the champions League, was held for the first time in the 1964/65 season, with Ghana as the host and his own club, Real Republicans, who had won the Ghanaian topflight league, representing the nation.

Ghana never looked back. The domestic top flight was exciting in the 1960’s, 1970s, 1990s and early 2000s, with clubs benefitting from a strong league by excelling on the African continent. It reflected on the number of titles they won on the African continent: Asante Kotoko have two Champions league titles, while Hearts of Oak have a CAF Champions League and a Confederation Cup title to their name.

Ashanti Gold, though having never won a continental trophy, were one of the first two clubs to play in the maiden CAF Champions League final in 1997. Ghana also won all of its four Africa Cup of Nations titles during that period with about 98%  of the winning teams recruited from the domestic league: 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982,

However, the league took a nose dive in terms of its strength and competiveness after the early 2000’s.  Many believed it was due to the GFA’s over-concentration on national team at the expense of domestic football. While the Black Stars qualified for three consecutive World Cups, the league, supposed to be the FA’s core mandate, continued to weaken in terms of quality and patronage.

Nyantakyi’s tenure has seen few successes in local football. His major critics use that against him and draw comparison with his predecessors, saying the league was way more exciting in ages past.

It is true that lovers of domestic football in recent past saw the likes of Joe Debrah for Kotoko and Shamo Quaye for Hearts of Oak, talented sportsmen who generated excitement in the league during early 1990s and early 2000s. There was also the all-conquering team of Hearts of Oak team who won the Ghana Premier League for a record six consecutive times. Interestingly, some of us don’t credit the FA Presidents of those eras for those successes.

Indeed, back then, there was the presence of great players in the league who managed to attract supporters, but that changed with the influx of agents to lure players into accepting to play in less attractive leagues in the world, resulting in a major drain that dulled the league.

The major bane of the era of domestic football decline was the exodus of players in greener pastures, so they didn’t last long enough on the domestic scene to thrill fans. It wasn’t so before then. Thus I laugh it off when people commend GFA Presidents for the attractiveness of the league during the 1990s and early 2000s. There were dark elements to our game back then - hooliganism, match fixing, bribery, injunctions et cetera - but I believe the quality of play sort of compensated for that.

Hearts of Oak, for instance, were lucky to keep the same players for a period of two to three years because the was a ban on transfer of their players by Bright Akwetey, who was then battling the management of the Phobians after he’d left office as the board secretary of the club. That continuation with regards to their squad base helped with their subsequent success.

I believe that the major challenge clubs face in Ghana is their inability to keep players due to financial limitations. Ghanaian clubs thus need to get people with sound financial backing to inject monies into the running of football in the country.

Kwesi Nyantakyi is the best GFA President in my books after the great Ohene Djan, but the recent revelation in the Anas expose has left me speechless.

I am of the opinion that Kwesi Nyantakyi could have done more to promote the development of domestic football in Ghana. Although, as I have alluded to earlier, the local league struggles with financial investment, I still believe Nyantakyi had a responsibility. I believe he could have put in place proper financial management to enhance the financial capabilities of the clubs to keep some of the quality players on the domestic scene.

The clubs didn’t see significant financial boosts from the various sponsorship they acquired for the league under Kwesi Nyantakyi. The sums of money that have gone into the payment of agency fees for league sponsorship contracts has robbed the clubs.

The Anas expose revealed that the Ghana FA President received a $15m Ghana Premier League sponsorship proposal from a Tiger Eye agent posing as an investor. Nyantakyi, rather unfortunately, suggested that 20% to 25% of the money - amounting to the region of $4.5m – be paid to an agency that he was going to form as brokers of the deal. All this, at the expense of Ghana Premier League clubs, who would have sang hosanna for landing a mega sponsorship deal.

I have heard the PRO of Zylofon Cash say that their $10m sponsorship of the Ghana Premier League, which took effect in the latter part of the first round of the ongoing season, was a walk in – meaning there was no agent or deal broker. However, there were reports that an agency facilitated the deal, and that they were going to receive 7.5% of the $10 million dollars.

The most shocking aspect of the Zylofon cash deal was that neither the GFA nor Zylofon confirmed the amount that was involved and the breakdowns, shrouding a cloak of secrecy on it all.

I can only imagine the amount of agency fees that have fallen into the pockets of wrong persons for the past years if the number 12 scenario had happened in previous transactions.

I have a lot of doubts in my mind, and I am beginning to think retrospectively about the infamous Mid-see saga, which became the talking point when GLO handed the Ghana Premier league a $1.5 sponsorship. Mid-see, all of a sudden, popped up as the agency that facilitated the deal and got away a chunk of the sponsorship money at the expense of the clubs.

A few years later the Black Stars secured a mega $3m per annum sponsorship from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to sponsor the senior national team of Ghana. It was understood to be a walk in sponsorship, but as usual agency fee came up, and at a point, the then board chairman of the GNPC, Atto Ahwoi, even threatened to withdraw the sponsorship. The Ghana Football Association (GFA) backtracked and went for the sponsorship without any agency fees wired into the accounts of unknown individuals.

The First Capital Plus Bank Sponsorship for the Ghana Premier League in 2014 might have suffered the same fate and the Zylofon Cash sponsorship may also be the latest casualty.

I almost forgot the ten year StarTimes sponsorship deal. The GFA president left the country with the idea that the deal was a five year, yet it ended up being a ten year deal and the Executive Committee members and the club owners were later informed of the deal. According to Cudjoe Fianoo, the erstwhile CEO of AshGold and the current Chairman of the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), he never set his eyes on the StarTimes contract and the same goes to the other top officials of the GFA.

The 16 clubs are the losers when whopping sums are paid to mysterious individuals who for all we know may have made no efforts to ensure the sponsorship was secured. I believe that when any official of the GFA facilitates a sponsorship deal, he does it for the GFA in exercising the mandate that the so called football people have given him or her.

The Ghana Football Association over the years has been criticized as being corrupt and having a poor administration. Sports journalists like Patrick Osei Agyemang ‘Countryman Songo’ and Dan Kwaku Yeboah have been fierce critics of the Kwesi Nyantakyi led GFA.

The criticisms against the GFA reached its height after Ghana were kicked out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil at the group stage amid issues of delay in the payment of appearance fees, which compelled the Black Starts to boycott training ahead of their final group game against Portugal.

READ MORE: Leanier Addy The only woman on the GFA Exco lowered herself by receiving GHC 300 as bribe

The Ghana government set up a committee to investigate the events, before, during and after Brazil 2014 Mundial that might have triggered Ghana’s shambolic performance. The findings of the Commission of Inquiry revealed that a whopping amount of over $500,000 was shared amount the members of the Black Stars management Committee headed by Kwesi Nynatakyi during the tournament. The FA President appeared before the Commission and explained how the amount was shared and it was further revealed that even a deceased member on the committee received his share of the amount. The Commission was not impressed with the accounts rendered and so were many Ghanaians.

Ghanaians’ love for the Black Stars has since suffered a major setback, and confidence in the Ghana Football Association has been at an all-time low.

Kwesi Nyantaky in one of his speeches said that in Ghana it is perceived that people who run football are thieves, and that that perception was false.

Well, Anas appeared like the biblical thief in the night and validate that perception.

READ MORE: Ex-Man United attacker Depay is on holidays in Ghana

Several football administrators dared Anas to bring evidence and they got it. The documentary has spawned a full blown crisis.

No wonder the government in response has decided to take steps to dissolve the GFA and is ready to face the consequences, including a FIFA ban. The damage done is drastic and has inspired an equally drastic response

Nyantakyi has also been slapped with a 90 day ban by FIFA, after Anas Aremeyaw Anas petitioned the world football governing body to look into the matter.

I would have wished to see Kwesi Nyantakyi go higher and higher in his career as a football administrator, having assumed power as the second in command at CAF and having had the opportunity to serve on the FIFA Executive Council.

And with all these feats coming at a young age of 49, he was well on course to becoming the first African to ascend the throne of FIFA Presidency in the near future.

Let’s see if Nyantakyi can still fight his way out of this scandal that had handed his reputation a major blow.

In the end, hopefully, the truth will stand.

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