Football’s season of demonstrations

Football’s season of demonstrations

Chocolate coins thrown by fans at the Bundesliga match between Heidenheim and Wolfsburg

The state of Ghana football has become an enormous worry for Ghanaians lately.

And it has reached a point that required dras­tic measures, damned the consequences, to keep the nation’s passion afloat.

The situation has led to a historic fans’ demonstration in the capital spearheaded by sports journalists who feel the state’s intervention was required to halt the direc­tion the Kurt Okraku Ghana Football Association (GFA) administration is driving the game.

The demonstrators with their pla cards. Photo Godwin Ofosu-Acheampong
The demonstrators with their pla cards. Photo Godwin Ofosu-Acheampong

The involvement of these seasoned journalists in the football rescue operation makes the development even more exciting due to the fact that this kind of exercises have usually been seen as a preserve of the fans.

So, for them to abandon their microphones in their respective studios to march under the scorching Accra sun tells a story of how disturbing the situation has become.

But trying to understand exactly what their actions were about, it is very im­portant to decipher the factors under consideration in arriving on the subject of the ‘state of Ghana football.’

A Hearts of Oak fan at a recent demonstration
A Hearts of Oak fan at a recent demonstration

As expressed by an ex-player John Paintsil on a television programme recently, Ghana football should encompass the game’s administration from the very grassroots to the very top, the Black Stars which perfor­mance appears to have been the cause of the actions.

That, in itself, is another problem football lovers must try to seek redress to due to the over concentration on the cash cow (Black Stars) to the detriment of all others.

The quality of the game from the lower divisions all the way to the Ghana Pre­mier League (GPL) has been nothing to write home about. Matches are very boring with clubs using crude tactics to win matches.

Referees are not left out of the chaos as they churn out unimpressive perfor­mances that raise a lot of question marks over their competence.

The fans also contribute their quota in a negative way to make it murkier with their violent conducts at venues, attacking opposing teams and fans as well as referees.

All of these contribute to taking the shine off our so-called beautiful game which should have attracted the attention of the conveners.

But, as usual, it is the rapid decline of the Stars that is giving almost every­one sleepless nights and warranting such actions.

I read in the last few minutes before this piece that a second demonstration earmarked for Kumasi in the Ashanti region was called off due to scheduled engage­ment with some of the major stakeholders in the line of restoring Ghana’s lost glory in football.

It would have been bigger than the Accra edition due to the passion fans in the region have for the game.

A 15-point petition called among other things a polit­ical will and support of the legislature to fashion out a policy to deliberately devel­op the game.

That touches on the game’s administration in Ghana, from the Juvenile Leagues, the Division Two League, Division One League, Ghana Premier League, and the National football teams, particularly the Black Stars.

It also highlighted the de­velopment of a national foot­ball policy, disbandment of the management com­mittee, structural reforms, govern­ment investing massively in school sports, technical develop­ment, infra­structure, grass-root football, the estab­lishment of nation­al training centres for all national teams’ coaches and their contracts.

These are very genuine concerns but the question on the lips of many vexed in football would be the kind of interpretation or spin to be put on the invitation of gov­ernment and its legislature in this matter.

This has happened in other jurisdiction and has been described as political inter­ference and led to bans and formation of Normalisation Committees. This should be fresh in our memories.

One may then ask about the specific role of the government, knowing the consequences of taking such actions.

I feel the onus lies on the FA to do exactly what the masses are calling for without necessarily government in­tervening. As football people, they understand the concerns of the masses and are well placed to fix them. What they need now is a complete change of attitude.

But call the week a season of demonstrations and one would not be far from right.

Far away in Ger­man, fans launched a series of protests, independent of the clubs, aimed at reversing or at least reconsidering a law that al­lowed the influx of capital for football broadcasting.

The protests were carried out by supporters of different teams in Germany and caused matches to be disrupted.

The interesting thing about their demonstration was the manner it was carried out.

While Ghanaian fans carried several placards with captivating inscriptions and walked for a few hours, the Germans attended their games and interrupted play anytime a goal was scored by throwing tennis balls and chocolate coins onto the pitch, delaying the starts and restarts of games and forcing referees to abandon matches.

During a second division match between Hamburg and Hanover, banners with a target superimposed over the face of Hanover’s president were displayed. The match was interrupted for 30 min­utes when tennis balls and other objects were thrown onto the pitch.

Similar protests delayed the start of the Bundesli­ga match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich on February 10.

The weekend’s game between Bochum and Bayern Munich was also disrupted several times by the fans action.

Two days fans of Accra Hearts of Oak also hit the streets in the typical Ghana demonstration fashion, also wielding placards with several inscriptions and calling for reforms.

Maybe as the attention of the German and Ghana FAs are drawn to their respective issues, fans or demonstra­tors of the two countries can also share a few ideas about holding demonstrations. That may help them know the best way to go about it – walking for hours or causing match disruption.

By Andrew Nortey

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