Our referees and the Anas expose

BY: Godsway Glah
Our referees and the Anas expose
Our referees and the Anas expose

The exposé and revelations made in the Anas video about referees, match commissioners and other match officials are important and useful lessons to Ghana football especially the manner in which the game is organized and played.

Indeed, the script has been written as the video vividly provides and confirms the long-held rumours and gossip. Those of us who, for various reasons conveniently describe them as perceptions can now tell it as it should. Referees, club owners and officials indulge in bribery. Period, signed and sealed.

Our referees and their accomplices have, for a long time hidden behind the lack of proof and evidence to corrupt our game of football.

Even with the revelations some match officials are trying hard to hide behind all sorts of lame reasons and explanations to justify the giving and acceptance of monies and other forms of favours before and after a football match. Timing cannot purify nor eliminate a criminal or corrupt act.

And now that the truth is out, what do we do about corruption in the game? My favourite former Ghanaian President once said that corruption is as old as Adam.

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Yes, corruption in football is as old as the game. Indeed, corruption in football can be likened to a branch of the national corruption tree of the country. This does not glorify it nor make it acceptable. We must do something about it.

I was a referee at the national level between 1975 and 1990. Then too, there was corruption, but it was limited to very few referees at the top who took advantage of their very rich experience to exploit the use of discretion in refereeing to achieve their selfish objectives. And so, the practice was very limited and rare. But now, it is widespread and common. So common that, I believe some referees even budget for it.

And what has made matters worse is that club owners and their agents have encouraged and promoted it. Indeed, it is widely speculated that they have accomplices among referee appointing officials. They sometimes get referees of their own choices. This situation has been so encouraged that it has matured into the type of pictures revealed in the Anas video.

I always ask myself the type of performance the organisers of our football expect from our referees and other match officials, when home teams are known to accommodate and lavishly feed the officials who handle their matches against visiting or away teams.

It is this situation that has developed into giving “transport money” by home teams to visiting match officials. And these “transport moneys” vary from one league venue to the other. Money never satisfies depending on the value system of the receiver.

As far as refereeing is concerned, my feeling is that those referees whose training and upbringing cannot tolerate and accommodate the corruption get frustrated. My experience is that while some of them eventually join in the corrupt practices, others either quit the hobby or remain grudgingly silent and are called all sorts of names. I have revealed in an earlier article some years ago that I stopped refereeing the very day a top club official brought money to my office. This club official is still active in football. What worried me most was that he got to know of my appointment even before it was conveyed to me.

Indeed, as soon as he left my office, I sent a letter through my messenger to the Referees Committee to remove my name from the list of Premier League referees. They did it and nobody has ever asked me my reasons.

Those were the days the GFA had its offices at the Accra Sports Stadium. That club official took away his money and got another referee to handle the match, which was a local derby. The result? The match ended 0-0 and the referee was well assaulted. Why? Perhaps, he took the money and did not fulfil his part of the contract or that club official pocketed it but created the impression that he had given it to the referee.

So after the Anas expose, what next?