AL-SMITH: Why Mahama’s Commission Of Inquiry Can’t Beat The GFA

A large chunk of Ghana’s 25 million citizens would dearly want the current GFA administration to be brought down to earth because it is felt they are too powerful.

If that is what the government want to do with the ongoing Commission of Inquiry, they would have lost from the very beginning. They would not beat the GFA – at least not at this place and time.

Rising resentment

It is true that you would find precious few who think the GFA’s current administration is not corrupt.

It is also true that knowing this, the government rode the wave of the Black Stars’ fantastic failure before and during the World Cup to constitute the three-man Commission to knock some sense into the FA in a nice way.

What the Commission can achieve is to further sully the reputation of the GFA in terms of how badly they managed the Black Stars’ technical direction in Brazil, as well as matters of indiscipline.

Because there would be crucial GFA general elections next year, this can damage the image of the current Kwesi Nyantakyi-led administration enough to get them out of power.

But the Commission, in fairness, have publicly said several times that demonizing the GFA is not their mission. Let’s hope that is the case. Otherwise, they will fail.

This is why.

1. Fifa has rules.

Like every other organization, the world football governing body has statutes detailing how member associations operate. It is important to note that Fifa does not lose anything if Ghana is banned.

Ghana needs Fifa more than Fifa needs Ghana, because the ordinary man on the street wants to be part of the global football family. Sepp Blatter would panic if England threatens to leave, but Ghana? Please.

2. You (Ghana) agreed to join Fifa.

Therefore, you agree to obey them. Else, if you think the Fifa kitchen is too hot, please get out.

3. Fifa have not said don’t punish corrupt officials.

They only say do not touch the structure of the FA.
Examples around Africa abound where Fifa has allowed governments to punish corrupt FA officials. Exactly a year ago this month, former Benin Football Federation president Anjorin Moucharafou was re-arrested and sent to jail two days after he declined to run for a third term.

He had been arraigned before a court in July 2011 for misappropriation of the federation’s funds, then he was remanded in custody at the Cotonou Civil Prison.

His crime? Anjorin had been accused of mishandling $650,000 sponsorship money from mobile phone company MTN between 2008 and 2010.
He was summoned alongside the Benin FA’s accountant Cecile Houssou for the same charges.

What did Fifa do? Nothing.

In fact, Fifa makes it a point to encourage member associations to be accountable to their governments and sponsors.

4. Most people think the GFA are afraid. Really?

Actually, they are not scared at all.

The FA are simply safeguarding the entire country from being banned because of the way the Commission of Inquiry kick-started its operations. It must be said that it’s largely for their own interests, and not because they love Ghana that much.

Article 279 of Ghana’s constitution says such a commission “shall have the powers, rights and privileges of the High Court or a Justice of the High Court at a trial.”

By virtue of how it is formed, the Committee can pass judgment that CAN touch the structure of the FA.

And if that happens, Ghana will be banned. If the FA are afraid of anything, it is that the lucrative competitions they partake in are under threat because of a looming Fifa ban.

5. Can the Commission punish any FA official?

Even if they would, it would not be directly done.
If, as we saw in the case of Anjorin in Benin, if an FA official is found to have embezzled state funds, the Commission cannot by themselves sentence him to jail.
They would make recommendations at the end of their mandate that will allow the Ghana Police to begin prosecuting procedures.

6. Should the GFA have anything to fear?

No, they do not. The GFA have always maintained that they did not have any direct involvement with the monies government gave for Ghana’s participation in Brazil.

In fact, there was no need to be involved because Fifa is thought to have given the FA up to $1.5 million for its preparations in Holland and the USA.

Despite not going through past the group stage, Ghana earned $8 million from playing the three matches in Brazil.

Therefore, the controversial $3 million the government airlifted during the tournament would be refunded by the FA as soon as Fifa make that money available.

7. Why has the sports minister suddenly gone quiet?

At the inauguration of the Commission of Inquiry, the recently-appointed sports minister made a promise that may haunt him badly.
Mahama Ayariga publicly promised the GFA that he will ensure the controversial clause (the one that hints that the GFA structure can be touched by the Commission if deemed fit) is removed.

As we speak, it is likely Ayariga is kicking himself for making that promise. It may become his first major mistake as minister of sport.

8. Is that why the GFA have suddenly started granting interviews?

The Communications Director of the FA, Ibrahim Sannie Daara, has been on a charm offensive, featuring on major news networks since Monday. Before then, he had hardly spoken on this matter after the Commission was inaugurated.

Daara and the FA have been reminding the sports minister of the promise he made to remove the controversial clause.

Daara told Citi FM on Monday: “We want to hold the minister to his word – his word that he gave with the press there – that he says if Fifa has a problem with the terms of inquiry, he would do something about it. And that is where it must stop.

“We don’t want to get into a public flogging with the ministry. So that we are seen to be played according to the Fifa laws and we would not be told by Fifa that we are violating its rules and we would suffer in that light [by being banned].”

9. Who is winning the public relations battle?

It depends on which stations you believe, or which media outlets you subscribe to.

The FA is alleged to have certain media houses that carry their interest, and make no mistake, some of these are very influential. The segment of Ghanaians who tune into these stations actively believe the Commission is not necessary.

By continuously granting interviews that remind the sports minister of his pledge, the GFA are subtly making Ayariga look like a troublemaker.

The government is losing ground because the Commission have pledged not to speak during the process. But what they do have is overwhelming public support as Ghanaians generally feel money was wasted in Brazil.
Even if the Commission completes its work and does not implicate the FA in anything, Nyantakyi and his people hope they would come out smelling better.

Focusing on the wrong people

Being a journalist offers one a certain kind of insight into niche topics and this is one.

I am fully convinced that the Presidential Commission are investigating the wrong people, because the biggest culprit of the Brazil 2014 fiasco has been moved from the Ministry of Youth and Sports to a position inside the Flagstaff House.

The government can (and should) punish any FA officials seen as embezzling money, after all they are Ghanaians and are subject to the laws of the land.

But that is unlikely, simply because the FA, if their rhetoric is to be believed, only used Fifa money throughout Brazil 2014.

Going forward

The Commission continues sitting on Wednesday. People must understand that the Dzamefe Commission is not prosecutorial, but simply advisorial.

So for the many Ghanaians wishing for wholesale changes at the FA through a direct action from Justice Dzamefe and his learned colleagues, sorry, you will be disappointed.