Selective justice! …Why only Hearts?
Ghana’s COVID-19 situation is alarmingly scary! Really scary! To have more than 700 people contracting the fatal virus daily should be a huge concern for all.
As of Thursday, the nation has recorded 5,786 active cases, 68, 559 confirmed cases and 433 deaths. In all, the recoveries/discharges have been a little over 62,000. Whichever way you look at it, the situation is very dire and frightening.
To stem the disturbing tide, a number of Ghanaians have even suggested a second partial lock-down to be imposed by the government. Others disagreed with that suggestion.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has, perhaps, taken the first carping step.
On Saturday January 30, 2021, the GFA ordered Hearts of Oak to play the rest of their Ghana Premier League matches behind closed-doors after they were said to have breached COVID-19 protocols in their game against rival side, Accra Great Olympics on Saturday night.
In a letter signed by the GFA’s General Secretary, Prosper Harrison Addo, the exact nature of the violations were not stated, but the club has been ordered to play all home games without fans at the stadium until the matter is determined by the Disciplinary Committee.
Hearts slumped 0-2 to their sworn rivals Accra Great Olympics in a tie that saw many supporters throng the stadium, discarding a standing guideline to clubs to only permit a maximum supporter number of 25 per cent of the stadium capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of course, during a virtual meeting with Safety and Security Officers and Representatives of the 18 Premier League Clubs on Wednesday January 20, the FA warned the clubs that it would close down any match venue where the COVID-19 Safety Protocols were violated.
Perhaps, one must commend the GFA for having the character to crack the whip on the Phobians, at least for now.
However, the FA cannot be said to be fair-and-square to fans and maybe Hearts when many other clubs have over time, glaringly flouted such directives and are walking scot-free.
For instance, the game between Asante Kotoko and AshantiGold SC held at the Len Clay Sports Stadium on Sunday January 31, attracted hundreds of supporters, far in excess of the legal 25 per cent stadium capacity. This cannot be lost on the FA.
Again, on the same day, there were several reports pointing to the fact that the King Faisal v Berekum Chelsea tie at the Gyamfi Park in Bekwai registered quite a sizable number in attendance, more than 30 per cent full.
If this be the case, why should the FA turn its sledge hammer on Hearts alone? Why the selective justice? Making them a scapegoat? If we really are poised to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, then we must be seen to be fair-minded and resolute in the implementation of the law.
That said, the National Sports Authority (NSA) too cannot be absolved from blame. The NSA is the owner of the stadium and It is also its responsibility to ensure that the right thing was done at the gates.
The NSC must have a system where it can easily monitor the number of fans that enter the stadium and ensure that they do not surpass what has already been agreed on – especially when it also have its men at the gate.
Of course, there must be a concerted effort between the NSA, security officers at match venues and clubs to ensure fans observe the protocols.
Indeed, it is all-too simplistic to blame the clubs – whilst the NSA that had allowed its facility to be violated, go blameless or overlooked.
The NSA must, therefore, be proactive to enforce the directive and not take things for granted. At all times, they must work closely with the clubs to ensure full compliance.
Some years ago, NSA security men at the main gate were said to have prevented then Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Professor Addy, from entering the Accra stadium because he did not have a complimentary ticket in clear violation of the rules they made. That is the way to go!
But in all these, do we not as fans also value our lives? Why must it take the government to compel us to protect our own lives and those of others? Incredible!
Whilst we support the FA in their avowed bid to enforce the rules, it would not be out of place to advise it to be holistic in their approach. That way, all clubs would be on the qui vive and do the right thing.
PlainTalk with JOHN VIGAH