Match-fixing allegations again reared their ugly heads in Ghanaian football in July following a bizarre contest between already relegated Inter Allies and Ashanti Gold in the Ghanaian Premier League.
AshGold were 7-0 victors at the Len Clay Stadium, but they were the beneficiaries of a couple of suspicious own goals by Inter Allies defender, Hashmin Musah.
The 24-year-old rose off the bench to put through his own net on two occasions within a 12-minute period before being substituted later in the match.
According to reports in Ghana, Musah has admitted to deliberately scoring the two own goals, claiming that his actions were designed to sabotage the plans of betting syndicates.
In a curious explanation, Musah claimed that he had information that bets had been placed on the standing score line as at the time of his introduction.
Ashanti have distanced themselves from the allegations.
The match between Ashanti and Inter Allies is not the only matchday 34 encounter to have been shrouded in match-fixing controversy.
Legon City’s 3-2 victory over Eleven Wonders has also drawn fans’ suspicion due to the nature of some of the goals. The victory for Legon City ensured that they stayed in the Ghanaian top flight for another season.
Following the events in Len Clay Stadium in Obuasi, the Ghanaian FA launched an investigation into the match. Not only are the GFA conducting sporting investigations, they also lodged criminal complaints with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana wing of Interpol.
It is good that the Ghana FA are not taking the situation lightly and have swung swiftly into action, but they must fight this to the end and ensure that guilty parties, if any, are properly dealt with.
Match-fixing has no place in the game, and anyone that is caught attempting to manipulate the result of a football match must be punished.
Ghanaian football fans invest lot of time, emotion and money into the beautiful game, and deserve to be rewarded with a fair contest.
If fans suspect that league matches are being fixed, they will stay away from the stadiums. Fans are not the only stakeholders that will turn their backs on the league. Potential sponsors will also distance themselves, denying Ghanaian football some much needed revenue.
Commenting on the match-fixing allegations, director of sports betting company, Bangbet, Ezekiel Lamptey, says betting companies may be forced to abandon the local game if match-fixing allegations persist.
Up until now, betting sites in Ghana like betway have been big investors in the Ghanaian game, with a number of clubs, including Ashanti, sponsored by some of these top bookies.
“Betting companies are also affected when games are fixed because they have to pay these huge sums of money to the winners. So it’s not something betting companies also encourage”, Lamptey said.
“Most Betting companies do not advertise the Ghana Premier League on their platforms due to a lot of reasons like what just happened over the weekend”.
Ghanaian football has a lot to lose if these match-fixing allegations are not quelled. It is hoped that any perpetrators will be identified and brought to book so that they can serve as deterrents to potential offenders.