Nyantakyi’s Ethics Committee may be ‘red herring’

Kwesi Nyantakyi - GFA President

Kwesi Nyantakyi’s plan to set up an Ethics Committee seems to have settled the neutrals in Ghana football but could this be another “red herring” in the making.

Minutes after he was given a second four-year tenure in office, the 43-year-old lawyer acknowledged that his biggest challenge will be in tacking corruption.

“We have to put in place an Ethics Committee that will be a forum for people to go and ventilate their grievances and also justify some of the allegations they put across in the media.

“For those who put a lot of allegations in the media, we have to confront them with the facts and possibly get them to agree with us or we should agree with them if they can convince us.”

Nyantakyi says there could be dire consequences for people who accuse others unfairly.

“If people persist in these things after all these avenues have been explored, maybe we then have to move forward to the legal arena. Either the court or the Media Commission because it’s getting too much,” he says.

It is easy to understand the concerns being expressed by the FA Capo since he is currently embroiled in a court case bordering on his alleged dealings with ABN Marketing Consult, the company purported to have brokered the $15 million Glo Premier League deal.

This also comes after numerous allegations of corruption in the local game surfaced with many a club CEO or coach accusing other clubs of match fixing without providing evidence to prove their cases.

For the neutrals, this might seem a good response to the numerous and almost endless streams of allegations bordering on corrupt practices by officialdom. Perhaps it’s also an acknowledgement by the FA that its existing disciplinary committees do not have the power and scope to investigate issues bordering on corruption.

However, despite his seeming enthusiasm, Nyantakyi failed crucially to explain the composition of the new anti-corruption committee. That is, which caliber of people will oversee the duties of the committee and what their mandate will be.

He rather deferred such questions saying he will give more information on the issue when the new administration is sworn into office in August, adding that people of integrity will be given the chance to steer the affairs of the committee.

But owing to the long held perception of corruption at the FA which stretches way back to the eighties and nineties, it might not be wise to have some particular individuals on the committee due to their past records. It will be akin to the proverbial fox guarding the hen house.

Suffice it to say that a third party or an independent outfit with men of integrity will be the preferred choice, and much more so compared to a team of personalities from mainstream football.

The onus though lies with the FA’s Executive Committee to make that important decision. Surely, though, Mr. Nyantakyi is not the right person to lead such an anti-corruption agency.

Having followed events at the GFA’s Extraordinary Congress at Prampram last week as well as happenings elsewhere including at the world governing body FIFA, it would not be out of place to speculate that the FA’s Ethics Committee could be a “red herring” aimed at diverting attention from the real issues at hand, or worse still, the Committee could be used by the FA to silence its critics.
Ahead of the FA’s Extraordinary Congress, the local football scene was dominated by allegations of match fixing, the rot at the Ghana League Clubs Association and the need to revamp the local league.

The irony though is that, except for the reference in the FA President’s speech, members of congress hardly spoke about the aforementioned issues when they had the chance to comment on the newly elected FA President’s speech.

The overriding concern was to pass a motion initiated by the CEO of Aduana Stars, Kofi Manu to dole out hefty sums of money to outgoing executive committee members, put differently, End of Service Benefits. At a time the local game is crying for help!!

It seems corruption in Ghana Football is only an issue for observers like you and I, and not for those inside the football family.

Events at the global level do not paint a different picture either.
FIFA’s ethics committee has controversially dropped all investigations against a FIFA Vice President Jack Warner following Warner’s decision to quit the world football governing body.

FIFA announced on Monday that Jack Warner had resigned as its vice-president and quit all football activities, with the world governing body stating they had dropped all investigations of him and that “the presumption of innocence is maintained”.

This is despite a secret report by FIFA’s ethics committee that claims that there is evidence proving bribes received from Jack Warner and Mohammed Bin Hammam.

“A copy of that report has now been obtained by the Press Association. It concludes that there was “compelling” evidence that Bin Hammam and Warner arranged a special meeting of the 25 members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) on 10th and 11th May in Trinidad and that, with their knowledge, cash gifts were handed over.”

The logical question that arises is: Is FIFA serious about cleaning up corruption or it is focused more on protecting its own?

Similarly, back home, there are still lingering questions about the FA’s seriousness in redeeming its image following waves of corruption allegations, real or perceived.

It is instructive to note that, it is not the corruption allegations that are affecting the image of the FA but rather the response of the GFA to such high levels of accusations which have rather been poor.

If the FA was really serious about rooting out corruption, it would be better off following the lead of the Ghana League Clubs Association by calling for a thorough audit of their accounts. Or furthermore, they would opt to face a thorough investigation by an investigating magistrate or prosecutor?

Nyantakyi has already set out to reform the FA at several levels for the next four years and that is really commendable.

The first step for Nyantakyi will be to bring about reform with the Regional Football Associations (RFA’s) who are supposed to lead the charge for grassroots development of the local game.

There needs to be massive change in the way things are being run now to enable that to be possible.

Real change will be felt when there is transparent and accountable administration at both the regional and national levels.

In that respect, a strong anti-corruption institution (Ethics Committee) with men and women of integrity can act as a check against the excesses of members of the football family. But, care must be taken not to abuse the power and authority of such an important body.

Unfortunately, Nyantakyi and his administration have not shown enough commitment to rooting out corruption and his latest move to set up an Ethics Committee seems to be a “red herring” because there is not enough evidence to suggest the new administration will deal appropriately with issues on corruption.

By Erasmus Kwaw

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