Ghana risks attracting a FIFA sanction with the current moves to set up a Presidential Commission of Enquiry into the Black Stars’ appearance at the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup as a similar move by France after the 2010 World Cup attracted a stern warning from FIFA for politicians in France to desist from interfering with the administration of football in that country.
President John Mahama on Monday decided to metamorphose a Ministerial Committee set up by the new Minister of Sports, Mahama Ayariga, into a Presidential Commission to investigate the Black Stars appearance at the World Cup.
The Commission’s terms of reference among others are “to enquire into matters relating to Ghana’s Black Stars team’s preparations for the tournament and possible lapses therein which might have caused their early exit from the tournament” and “to enquire into matters relating to the management of the Ghana Black Stars team and events in their camp during the tournament”
However, this move from precedentarin other jurisdictions in the past is likely to attract a reaction from the World Football governing body, FIFA. One of the most recent precedents was a move by then French President Nicholas Sarkozy who soight to investigate the French FA and management of the National Team after a poor showing at the South Africa 2010 World Cup.
Jerome Valcke, the Secretary General of FIFA, in warning the French politicians said his organisation had reminded the French not to cross the line.
Valcke said: “We have spoken with the office of the Sports Minister and have said that there is a need to be very careful that there is autonomy of football.
“They can meet, they can discuss, they can ask for apologies from the people involved, but they need to be careful because if there is interference, FIFA will react just as with any country in the world. What I’m saying is we will definitely look at what France is doing, but it is to avoid having a difficult situation. Advice was given from my side about our system and how the pyramid of football is working. To cut a long story short – no one can ask for someone to resign. There is a system in place to run football around the world and that system is under the umbrella of FIFA. We are always monitoring things and warning people how this pyramid of football is working.”, he added.
FIFA President, Sepp Blatter also commenting on the same issue cautioned the French government and warned that any more interference could lead to the French Football Federation being banned from international competitions.
“We don’t want political interference,” said Blatter, speaking to reporters in Johannesburg in June 2010. “The national sports law exists but in the FIFA statutes, no political interference can be tolerated.”
Acknowledging that he was sending a “clear and clean message” to President Sarkozy, Blatter continued: “In France they have made an affair d’etat with football, but football remains in the hands of the federation.”
And Blatter emphasised that Fifa would not hesitate to act if they felt they had to: “We will help the national association and if it cannot be solved by consultation, then the only thing we have is to suspend the federation,” he said. “Definitely, I can tell you that political interference will be dealt with by Fifa notwithstanding what kind of interference and what is the size of the country.”
It is clear from this precedent however that FIFA would not have much issues with the other terms of reference for the Mahama Commission including the ones about inquiring “into matters relating to Ghana’s treatment of Ghanaian football fans who were sent to support the Black Stars by the Ministry of Youth and Sports”.
The Commission must there be guided by the Statutes of FIFA in order not to cross the red line.