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Wed, 13 Jun 2018 13:47 - Updated Wed, 13 Jun 2018 13:47

Ghana takes bold steps to restructure FA following bribery scandal

ACCRA-- A High Court in Accra on Tuesday placed a 10-day interim injunction on the activities of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) as part of the government's efforts to dissolve the GFA and rebuild it to restore public confidence.

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The court order bars the FA and its officials from carrying out all official duties, including the organization of football matches, the selling of the association's assets and the appointment and election of officials.

The injunction comes after the government filed a petition at the High Court for the dissolution of the GFA.

It follows a documentary by celebrated investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas which uncovered massive rot and fraudulent activities by GFA officials and administrators who were caught in the act on camera to influence the outcome of football matches.

The president of the GFA, Kwesi Nyantakyi, who has been banned by the FIFA ethics committee for 90 days, was filmed apparently accepting a "cash gift", which is against the world football governing body's code of ethics.

He is already under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for fraudulently using the name of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Some top officials of the football association were also caught in the act, taking as low as 200 U.S. dollars to influence league matches and allow unqualified players to get a call-up to the country's senior national male soccer team, nicknamed the Black Stars.

About 77 referees are said to have been captured in the video allegedly negotiating to compromise football matches.

The ex-parte interlocutory injunction moved by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, described the premises of the GFA as a crime scene, noting that "if officials are allowed in, their actions will cause greater injury to the state".

She told reporters that the GFA was being used as an instrument for self-aggrandizement and a means by some officials to make themselves rich, adding that the injunction is necessary to protect the public interest.

"GFA has undermined its existence and therefore in the interest of protecting the national interests, we say the Attorney-General owes the duty to take urgent measures to stop this," she said.

The government, she said, had sought the support of both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in its restructuring process.

Last Thursday, Ghana's Sports Minister Isaac Kwame Asiamah announced the government's decision to dissolve the GFA with immediate effect, as it kicks off its intention of 'cleansing' the association after the premiering of the damning video.

All football activities including the elite league stand suspended.

Spontaneous applause and joy welcomed the Ghanaian government's decision.

Soccer fans, who watched the two-hour video put together by Anas and his undercover team, were outraged and shocked by the rampant bribery and corruption in the game as documented in the investigations.

The fans called on the government to take drastic measures to sanitize the running of football in the West African country.

"I am highly disappointed at the level of corruption in the system, right from the referees to the GFA officials. I think that the whole GFA should be disbanded," Andrew Appiah said.

"I think the football administration should totally be scrapped. Nobody should be left there to do anything. We want to see a lot of change in Ghana," said another soccer fan, Thomas Kupuule.

The dissolution of the GFA runs contrary to the laws of FIFA, where there is a zero tolerance for any form of state or third party interference in football administration.

But the Ghanaian government remains hopeful that its ruling would not attract FIFA sanctions but rather lead to reforms the citizenry are yearning for.

Analysts however say that the government decree is likely to affect Ghana's participation in major international football tournaments and meetings.

The Black Princesses and the Black Maidens, who are billed to engage in FIFA-organized female competitions later in the year, cannot do so, while the local league will naturally be put on the back burner, awaiting decisions from FIFA and the interim body which is likely to be set up in the restructuring process.

Ghana's Aduana Stars, who are participating in the CAF Confederations Cup, also risks being expelled from the competition should the FA dissolution persist.

The West African country also risks being suspended from the voting of 2026 World Cup host on Wednesday when Morocco faces the challenge of the joint bid of the United States, Canada and Mexico,XINHUA.

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