President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Kurt Edwin Simeon Okraku, to adhere to the principles of accountability, transparency and decency to steer football in the country to winning ways.
He gave the FA boss the assurance that as the chief executive of the country, the GFA and its President would have his unalloyed support so that they would take Ghana football back to the glorious ways that characterised it years back.
President Akufo-Addo gave the advice when he received Mr Okraku and his team at the Jubilee House in Accra on Wednesday.
He reminded them that it would not be easy because football was an area where people would hail him one day and crucify him on another day and urged him to stay true to the principles he espoused before rising to that position.
President Akufo-Addo said he was excited when he heard of the completion of the GFA elections, “and we had a new young, vibrant boss of the GFA, I was very happy about it. Everything I have heard about you confirms that for me.”
He made it clear to the newly elected GFA President that he had a very big task ahead of him, especially in a country where almost everybody was a football expert who would sit in their homes and state who should have been selected and who should not.
President Akufo-Addo welcomes the GFA boss to the Jubilee House
He advised him that there were two types of people in the world: those who walked to the sound of other people’s drums and those who walked to the sound of their own drum.
Stating his preference for those who walked to the sound of their drums, he urged Mr Okraku to listen to himself and make sure that the decisions he would take were in consonance with what was his understanding of the best for Ghana football and the best standards he would uphold.
President Akufo-Addo said he was distressed when allegations of corruption in the sport came up which prompted him to intervene, but added that: “I had no interest in wanting to control Ghana football, that was for football people.”
He said he felt that the government was duty-bound to step in and take some action, stop the rot and hopefully institute reforms that would enable Ghanaian football to take on a new leaf and begin a new journey.
He said, fortunately, the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, came to Ghana and they both found a meeting of minds which was what led to the establishment of the GFA Normalisation Committee.
President Akufo-Addo said all the claims that the country would be sanctioned because of the actions the country had been taking vanished when the FIFA boss visited Ghana and worked together with others to establish the Normalisation Committee, which was a transitional arrangement that would lead to a new constitution and a new GFA Executive to take Ghanaian football back to where it should be.
President Akufo-Addo described the meeting with the new GFA President as a very happy day for him because he remained a great lover of the sport and was aware of the great traditions of the discipline that the country had built over the years.
President Akufo-Addo addressing Mr Okraku and his team
He said he started watching football long before the GFA President was born and had seen the evolution of Ghana football from the time the stadium was at Fadama all the way through to the period of Charles Kumi Gyamfi, James Adjei, Baba Yara, Edward Aggrey-Fynn to the modern greats of Abedi Ayew Pele.
Mr Okraku stated that he was committed to ensuring that Ghana had a football association that embraced all the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability, good internal audit systems and a full-time compliance department.
He said those would ensure that “we reposition the product offering so that corporate Ghana and the direct consumers of our sport, which is Ghanaian football people, will love our sport again.”
The GFA boss expressed the hope that the government, led by President Akufo-Addo, would continue to support the association just as it had been with football many years and added that it was their commitment to achieving the President’s goal of ensuring that the sport became the envy of many.
“It is my individual promise to work closely with the government to ensure that we deliver our sport and make it consumable again,” Mr Okraku stated.
The GFA President said the football discipline was consumed by close to 211 countries and a sport that united the country and offered hope and aspiration to people as well as opportunities including employment for the youth for which reason it would need absolute attention.
“I have said on varied platforms that the football association and the government needs to have what I can a sexy relationship,” he said and explained that the association would need the government in order to navigate the industry to the promised land.