The government has reiterated its commitment not to compromise on the sovereignty of the nation when its three-member team meets with officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, to deliberate on the best means to resolve an impasse over perceived governmental interference in the running of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).
FIFA, in a letter to the Dr Kofi Amoah-led Liaison Committee currently managing Ghana football, accused the government of third-party interference and gave the country an August 27 ultimatum to withdraw its application to the High Court to commence the liquidation process of the GFA or risk being banned from all football-related activities.
Its General Secretary, Fatma Samoura, in the letter, said the world body considered the government’s legal process to liquidate the FA as “undue influence in the affairs of the GFA” and violated FIFA statutes.
However, explaining government’s position on the matter, the Minister for Information designate, Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, said although it disagreed with FIFA, it would continue to engage with the world football governing body because it remained hopeful that the impasse would be resolved.
“It is important that as we have engaged with them, even to set up a Liaison Committee and get to this point, we further engage with them on how to arrive at that solution without necessarily encountering infringement of Article 14 or 19, but that ought not to be interpreted in any way that Ghana will be willing to throw away its sovereignty through the window,” he said at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.
“We believe that the two of us can come to a common goal. FIFA’s objective and ours appear to be the same and we believe that by re-engaging, we can come to that common point. But our sovereignty, our clarity to deal with the matters that we have witnessed are things that we will not compromise on,” he emphasised.
Mr Nkrumah stressed that although the government did not share the position of FIFA on the matter at stake, it still believed that the way to go was to dialogue.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the government of Ghana does not share the position that FIFA put out, but we are continuing to engage with them because we believe that we can still find a common ground to achieve the same objective. That is what this latest round of meetings slated for Thursday are expected to conclude on,” he told the media.
Government, FIFA committed to zero tolerance for corruption
According to him, FIFA and the government were committed to zero tolerance for corruption in football but only disagreed on the final route to resolve issues of corruption at the GFA.
“On receiving the communication, the government of Ghana and FIFA have continued to engage. You recall that we started engaging with them from the onset. We have continued to engage even at the highest levels and the two parties, that is, the government and FIFA, have agreed to meet today, Thursday, August 16 at the FIFA Headquarters to discuss a number of issues.
“FIFA, in their earlier meetings with us, reaffirmed their commitment to zero tolerance for corruption in football and they also expressed their commitment that they have no problem with Ghana enforcing its domestic laws generally. What the two parties are currently not agreeing on is the final route to take to resolve the problem permanently — whether we should go by liquidation or another route which achieves the same objective but does not end up in a position considered by FIFA as a breach of their statutes,” he said.
Mr Nkrumah also announced that the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, would lead the three-member government team tasked to engage FIFA to resolve the impasse.
Other members of the team that will represent the interests of the government in the consultation are a Deputy Attorney General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, and a Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Samuel Jinapor.
“The focus of that discussion is to explore means by which the two parties can finalise arrangements on a mutually acceptable route for this final phase of resolving the observed infractions in football administration in Ghana,” he explained.
Implications of a FIFA ban
Articles 14 and 19 of the FIFA Statutes state that member associations must “manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties”.
If a country is found guilty of infringing these clauses, FIFA will suspend it from international football on the grounds of government interference in the running of its national federation.
In addition to the exclusion from competitions, the offending country will also fall outside of any training or development programmes run by FIFA.
On June 7, 2018, the investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, aired a documentary titled: “Number 12 — When greed and corruption become the norm”, which captured some officials of the GFA, including its former President, Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi, engaged in some acts of alleged corruption.
In response to the expression of outrage and anger by the public, the government announced that it had initiated processes to dissolve the GFA.
The processes resulted in the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court appointing the Registrar of Companies (Registrar-General) to take custody of the assets of the injuncted GFA and protect them as part of the liquidation process.