Fans of the European football in Ghana may soon have to have to contemplate life without it, at least for free, after the former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mahama Ayariga revealed the Ministry’s intentions to fight the free-to-air coverage of European football matches in country.
According to Mr Ayariga, the regular broadcast of live football matches from leagues in Europe has had a detrimental impact on the development of the local league.
The then Sports Minister, before a ministerial reshuffle which saw him moved to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said on Citi FM’s Sports Panorama: ‘I am told that in some countries in Europe during league matches, apart from those who pay TV, you cannot show matches free-to-air. And yet, even in Europe where the match is being played the match is being played they cannot show it live yet the match is being shown live here in Accra. So how do you expect your own local league to develop I think that that is something that we need to address. I have asked someone to carry out a technical analysis for us to review….I am going to send a memo to Parliament. ‘These are things that you must regulate. We must also insist that you can’t show these matches live at the time where we are playing our local league, because it serves as a disincentive for Ghanaians going to the stadium to watch [local matches]. We have to think about regulating that.’
Mr. Ayariga added that while European football matches are still broadcast on Ghanaian media platforms, football fans will always opt for the ‘better option’ often at the expense of the local league.
‘At the time that the league is taking place, your domestic league should be the only option you should have. If we give you alternatives and those alternatives are better than your domestic league, why would you go to the stadium in the scorching sun to watch Kotoko and Hearts play when two big teams in Europe are playing a match. ‘Why would I go and watch Olympics when Barcelona is playing. That is the reality. If people are given a choice they go for the better option. If in Europe they find it necessary to regulate that, why won’t we also regulate that,’ he said.
The broadcast of English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and the German Bundesliga in Ghana is big business for the media houses and while Mr. Ayariga acknowledged that he would face resistance from the media, he stated that the move was necessary and was the only way to promote the local league ‘It might not sound palatable to some of the media houses but it is a battle that we must fight because that is the only way we can protect the local league. I know the media houses will fight me, they will resist but we need to do this to promote the local league,’ the Minister said.
It is unclear whether the Ministerial reshuffle will affect the move and whether new Sports Minister, Alhaji Dr. Mustapha Ahmed will choose to pursue it.
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