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[Feature] Corruption in Ghana Football: Osafo Maafo v Yamin v Tamakloe, the referee is common sense

Former Sports Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo believes corruption has damaged Ghana football and that the bane worsened after 2010.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) launched the celebration of the 2017 Anti-corruption Week and the National Anti-Corruption Plan conference in Accra on December 4.

It is such an important week for the government in its quest to eradicate the canker of corruption in the country but from this launch, personalities have clashed, opinion and analysis have been politically polarized and there is an open fight of views regarding corruption in the country’s football.

The fight is on. It is open,  free of charge to all people. The venue is on all media platforms and the referee , chosen by the common house of public opinion, is Mr. Common Sense.

The boxers are Yaw Osafo Maafo in the Elephant corner, currently the Senior minister. He was the minister for Finance and Economic Planning for the period February 2001 – January 2005. Held the position of Education and Sports Minister between February 2005 and April 2006. Heavyweight boxer.

In the Umbrella corner is Joseph Yamin. Former deputy Ashanti Regional Minister. Also a former deputy Youth and Sports Minister. Young and strong.

In the Elephant corner again is the mysterious and unpredictable boxer Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe. A former Ghana Football Association president.

Round 1.

At the Anti-Corruption campaign launch, Osafo Maafo addressed general corruption issues in the country including football and cited a personal experience when he newly became the Sports Minister on how his meeting with officiating officials improved the standard of refereeing in the local leagues and consequently Ghana qualified for her first Fifa World Cup in 2006. According to the Senior Minister, corruption has killed the Ghanaian game and that things started to worsen after 2010 – the year that Ghana reached the quarterfinals of the Fifa World Cup.

This is something that we know exists in our game. Club administrators have always admitted that. Yakubu Abdul Salam, the president of New Edubiase United and Amidaus’ Baba Gado are some of the persons who never shy away from making such admissions. Even the Ghana FA knows there is corruption in the game. The fans know it. Journalists are aware of it. Everybody knows it.

So we can say Mr. Maafo is well on point. He made the declarations and targeted the referees and the Ghana Football Association. The first punches have been thrown by the Senior Minister and he goes his way but who responds?

First, it is Joseph Yamin in the Umbrella corner. It is not directly his challenge but stands up to contest because Maafo referenced 2010 as the period after which corruption in Ghana football started to aggravate and so he wouldn’t let this attack go unchallenged because reasonably his team – The NDC – was in power by that time. He delivers an uppercut that the Senior Minister talked like a radio “Serial Caller” and on Nhyira FM, he ranted that Maafo just made a blank statement without any evidence.

Yamin admits past records suggest there could be corruption in Ghana football citing the Juventus Calciopoli debacle but argues that without evidence and convictions, one cannot say there is and the central part of his disagreement with Maafo is that there is never a time frame where corruption in Ghana football was low or severe in the country.

“This is just an empty statement and nothing else. There is no evidence to back that. If anybody wants to create the impression that football corruption in Ghana became deep during the NDC time, then it’s not acceptable. Let’s look at how to solve the problem and not apportion time frame about when it became severe. Football is corruption. Corruption is football,” Yamin stressed this point.

Will Maafo respond? Well, let’s see.

From the Elephant Corner is Nyaho Tamakloe. Maafo’s fans rejoice as teammate reinforcement has arrived to battle it out against the energetic Yamin. Tamakloe furiously steps into the ring, constantly winding his fist in a fearful manner that even the referee is afraid to approach. Yamin looks on, takes two steps back, ready to fight two boxers from the same team, the fans watch as well. But surprisingly, Tamakloe attacks Maafo, who is still lying down in agony, with a serious right hook on the chin.

Isn’t Tamakloe suppose to be attacking the opponent, Yamin ? People amazingly look on and at this time nobody knows exactly what is happening.

“If I will join this discussion, I will be compelled to abuse people. You’ve no moral right to talk about corruption at the FA, Yaw. Stop playing the good boy, that’s all,” Tamakloe speaking to Joy FM punches Osafo Maafo.

The referee – Mr. Sense – steps in now to deliver a verdict. Who has won? Everybody waits.

The referee, first of all, addresses Maafo that his corruption assertion is so true. In fact he’s not the first person to make such claim. The corruption perception in the Ghana football has increased over the years. The game is suffering from it. It is also true that our Ghanaian teams cannot compete in Africa against the big teams like Al-Ahly, TP Mazembe, Zamalek, WAC etc because we know for a fact that our clubs have reached the group stage of the Champions league once in the last six editions and once in the Confederations Cup in the last nine seasons.

But he added that it is also difficult for anyone to accept the allegation that football corruption in the nation started to be severe after 2010 without presenting academic facts and knowledge to back that assertion. But it is also acceptable that once upon a time unflinching interest and support Ghanaians football fans showed has reduced by a general observation. The referee also agreed with Maafo that offenders must be investigated and punished and urged him to remain firm as he helps him to lift his body up from the floor. The referee also petitioned him to champion the campaign in the fight against corruption especially in the country’s football. It is the hope of the referee that the Senior Minister, a powerful person in the country’s political system, should be able to champion that crusade. Saying things are never equal to doing them. In other words, saying corruption exists in our game is not enough. Actions but not words.

For the fighter Jospeh Yamin, the referee advised not to politically polarize this issue of national interest and welcome his view of looking at the roots cause of the problem and put mechanisms in place to minimize corruption in the game that unites the country.

What about Tamakloe? It is the judgment of the referee that he refused to tell why Maafo is not morally fit to discuss corruption in Ghana football and therefore overrule his ethical blow.

Round 2. To be continued…

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