Lawyer and sports journalist Samuel Bartels has stated that Ghana is, for the time being, free from punishment from world football governing body FIFA following the establishment of a committee by the Sports Minister, Mahama Ayariga, on Friday to investigate the Black Stars performance in Brazil in the World Cup.
Ghana exited at the first round stage of the competition with one point from three matches but the campaign was hit with player rows over the delays in payment of appearance fees and reports of fan discontentment in relation to the general organisation of their trip to the World Cup.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Friday, Bartels explained that provided the committee’s recommendations would not directly influence the operations and structure of the Ghana Football Association, Ghana would be free from FIFA sanctions.
“FIFA has stated that member federations are to be free from the direct interference of governments and these national associations are mandated by FIFA to run football on their own. That rule applies to Ghana as well.
The setting up of this committee is not wrong at all and they have been told to work and bring their recommendations. However, the point where government would be seen as interfering is when, for instance, the committee recommends there should be a change in the operating structure or the leadership of the Executive Committee of the GFA or there should be a look into funds directly given by FIFA. That is when we risk sanctions from FIFA.”
The committee, set up by the Sports Minister, has Appeals Court Judge Justice Senyo Dzamefe as the Chairman and he will be supported by Lawyer and Sports Administrator, Moses Foh-Amoaning, and Sports Enthusiast, Kofi Anokye Darko and it will have thirty (30) days to provide a report to the Ministry.
FIFA’s articles 13 and 17 instructs member associations “to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.” and failure to do so, has been met with suspensions from FIFA.
Currently, Nigeria is at the risk of such punitive measures after it emerged that Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari and the executive members of the NFF, had been restrained from running the country’s football activities by a court in Plateau State on Thursday.
In 2010, Nigeria also risked suspension from FIFA after President Goodluck Jonathan banned the national team for two years following a poor display in the 2010 African Nations Cup.
Other countries like Cameroon (in 2013) have been caught foul of the FIFA regulation and have been suspended while others like Uruguay (in April 2014) and Uganda (in July 2013) have been warned by FIFA over issues on interference from their government in the administration of football in those countries.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR GHANA
Bartels explained that the committee must be allowed to work first and its recommendations would have to be looked at before bringing up the issue of government interference.
He also stated that the recommendations could call for an audit of the GFA’s accounts in relations to funds given directly by the Government of Ghana and that could be done without stepping on the wrong side of FIFA’s rules.