No One Eats Football

The Ghana Football Association, through its spokesperson, Mr. Sanni Daara, has publicly apologised for the bestiality, heartless, needless and wanton attack on Daniel Kenu, a staff member of the Graphic Communications Group Limited. Kenu acted professionally in asking the Black Stars captain, Asamoah Gyan, a question about allegations that he personally had something to do with the disappearance of his friend Castro, at a press conference organised by the GFA in Kumasi last week.

While the apology must be taken in good faith, it must unequivocally be stated that the seed for the mayhem was sown by the GFA when it overruled the question. The grounds for the violence were further nurtured by commentators some of whom may be hirelings and who think that our national footballers are demigods who must be worshipped either normatively or as a means of securing economic gains.

The GFA president did not act differently from public officials who think that organisers, not the media, must determine the line of questioning at press conferences. There is a total lack of appreciation of the principles underlining press conferences as no holds-barred events. No questions are out of place. However, ill-thought-out answers could be damaging to the reputation of the organisers.

In the specific instance of Kenu, he acted professionally in playing the devil’s advocate. He prefaced the question by stating that he felt bad in asking the question on a matter that could stir emotions but since the matter was in the public domain he wanted Gyan to clear the air. That was the opportunity offered Gyan, on whose behalf the police had the previous day arrested two people for taunting him for the disappearance of Castro.

Indeed, there is a lawyer who has argued that the police must arrest Gyan over the same issue. Therefore, it was no heretic or madness in openly putting the issue as a question to Gyan to clear his name. We should not forget that since the incident, Gyan has not directly spoken on the matter. A number of press statements have been issued in his name but he himself has not been heard publicly commenting on the sad development.In asking the question, Kenu must not be assumed to have attached any substance to the allegation. Majority of Ghanaians would not hold Gyan culpable.

But that is where some media personnel have got it wrong in magnifying the false claim that what Kenu did amounted to provocation. Some have made Kenu look like the devil. In the words of Proverbs 14:20 “the poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends.” That is where the Ashanti Region Chapter of the GJA must be commended for its stand on the matter.

As for those behind the scenes calling for an amicable settlement of the matter, we must not forget that Kenu could have died. It is also a matter of impunity and trampling down on constitutional rights. Those who think that they can take the law into their hands must be ready to face the law. We cannot sacrifice the fundamental rights of a citizen for any other convenience.

We at Graphic have learnt our lessons. Three years back, some police personnel subjected a staff member to bestiality for daring to cover an exercise to clamp down on suspected criminals in Ho. The Regional Security Council brokered a deal for the hapless journalist to let sleeping dogs lie. The police personnel were forgiven. Two years on, the victim has lost his sense of smell.

The time has come for our players to note that we adore them but that does not mean that they could abuse our sensibilities and sensitivities. Football does not put food on anybody’s table. In today’s Ghana, the USD 100,000 could translate into GH¢360,000. Majority of Ghanaian workers earn below GH¢ 3,000 monthly. The matter which culminated in the closure of our polytechnics for more than three months and caused delay in the reopening of public universities involved the payment of USD 1,500 and GH¢ 400 annually to each lecturer. That is how the public would evaluate the payments made to the players, without prejudice to whether the players deserved the money or otherwise.

All that I am submitting is that our national football players must be sensitive to the feelings of our people and not bring oil to fire. We need the Black Stars players to keep on winning to make us happy. When they play well but do not win, as it happened with the match with Germany, all Ghanaians will note it, but if they perform badly as they did against Portugal, we would equally not keep quiet.

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