REALITY CHECK: Ghana’s Football Woes Outlast Nyantakyi

Kwesi Nyantakyi
Kwesi Nyantakyi

A year ago, if you asked anyone what the problem with Ghanaian football was, most wouldn’t have been able to see beyond the ‘obvious’: Kwesi Nyantakyi, the man who sat atop the national game’s pyramid.

Nyantakyi had been head of the Ghana Football Association longer than any who’d ever occupied the office, his 13-year tenure a record that would probably never be broken by any who comes after him. He could have lasted even longer, but ‘Number 12’ — a damning corruption exposé in 2018 by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas — crushed a career in football administration that, though illustrious, was only just blossoming.

Down Nyantakyi was hurled off his throne and out of the beautiful game for good, with a lifetime ban by Fifa – an organization of which he’d hitherto been a high-ranking member — pulverizing what remained of the 49-year-old’s shattered reputation. And, with that, many believed the worst was over for Ghanaian football — the worst, of course, being Nyantakyi and his broken close circle.

It’s hard to fault such belief on the part of a public that had been sold a great deception by anti-Nyantakyi elements of the media: that the deposed vice-president of the Confederation of African Football was some Azazel goat, burdened with the many wrongs of the sport and whose banishment into the wilderness would cleanse the whole. But Nyantakyi was no Azazel and, months after his ‘Number 12’-induced exit, Ghana football has proven no paradise. To objective minds, reality now dawns that the mess — at least in the context of club football – can’t simply be wished away.

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It took the return of organized activity to reveal this, following a fallow period of relative calm and quiet, but the lingering ugliness now resurfaces in all its horror. Fanatics – masquerading as fans and officials of the clubs they profess to serve and/or support – cling to violent tactics, and recent incidents in Sunyani, Berekum and Dormaa-Ahenkro during Special Competition fixtures across the sexes suggest there’s a lot more to be done in restoring sanity to our football aside kicking out a corrupt ‘dictator’.

The task is hard enough – and, with time, do expect other familiar problems to rear their heads again — for the Normalization Committee (NC) tasked with nursing affairs back to normalcy, as erring clubs respond to home bans handed out with threats of boycott. Nyantakyi and his men may have struggled to keep a tight rein on league football, but the NC — and any future administrations — would find the challenge no easier until all stakeholders accept some responsibility, too.

Normal may not be as overrated as some claim, but it certainly comes at a price — one everyone, not just Nyantakyi, would have to pay.

Sammie Frimpong – Daily Mail GH

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