Lawyers for the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Beyuo and Co., believes the erstwhile GFA Normalisation Committee (NC) did not err in their decision to disqualify CEO of Tema Youth, Mr Wilfred Kwaku Osei, known in football circles as Palmer, from contesting the 2019 GFA presidential election.
According to the brief signed by the lead counsel, Naa Odofoley Nortey, and sent to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which was sighted by the Daily Graphic yesterday, the NC acted in accordance with FIFA rules and practices in conducting the elections.
“Per the order from FIFA, the GFA/NC was to act as the GFA Elections Committee during the normalisation period and decisions in that capacity and relating to the conduct of elections during that period were to be final and binding” the document stated.
It further argued that: “FIFA bears a special responsibility to safeguard the integrity and reputation of football worldwide and to that end, FIFA is constantly striving to protect the image of football from jeopardy or harm as a result of immoral or unethical methods and practices”.
The NC, acting as the election committee of the GFA, was mandated by FIFA rules to conduct integrity checks for the election to set up a new administration for the national association.
By so doing, the Vetting Committee of the NC found Mr Kwaku Osei culpable on two counts of his inability to admit that he was previously sanctioned for conduct that violated Article 2 of the GFA Code of Ethics and Article 3(3) and (4) of the FIFA Code of Ethics owing to his public utterances which were quoted in paragraph 8 of the brief.
Secondly, Mr Osei refused to turn over the funds received in trust on behalf of the GFA to the association in blatant violation of Article 33(5)(C) of the GFA General Regulations, Article 2 of the GFA Statutes as well as Article 13(1) and 28(2) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“Under these circumstances, the GFA humbly submits that it will be unfortunate that a rule that has been applied consistently, systematically and continuously across the footballing world over the last few years, and has subsequently been ratified by consecutive FIFA congresses, can be ignored or taken lightly and that the applicant’s arbitration request and appeal should be ruled inadmissible” the document read.
Prima facie violations
The document further described Mr Osei’s actions as prima facie violation which were against most provisions of FIFA Code of Ethics and may justify the decision of the vetting committee to declare him ineligible.
It also stated that “a CAS panel had previously held that prima facie violations of some of the most serious provisions – particularly offences of a financial nature of the FIFA Code of Ethics may justify the decision of a reviewing committee to declare an applicant ineligible”, urging the CAS to act accordingly.
Appellant’s claim of bias
The lawyers of the GFA further described Mr Osei Kwaku’s claim of bias against him as a tactic to lure the CAS to rule in his favour although he admitted earlier at the vetting that he and his club (Tema Youth FC) had behaved inappropriately by breaching the GFA rules and regulations, the very institution which he wanted to head as President.
“The appellant’s claim of bias or the real likelihood of bias can only reasonably be classified as argumentum ad hominem, employed as a tactic to arouse the emotions of the CAS to exercise jurisdiction,” the document read.
Judgement date extension
The CAS has twice fixed new dates for the ruling of the case. The date for the communication of the decision was initially fixed for Friday, July 17, 2020, but CAS in pursuant to Article R59 of the Code of Sports-related Arbitration postponed it to August 4 and later September 1, 2020.
The respondent (GFA) requested that the time limit for filing of the answer be fixed after the payment by the appellant of its share of the advance of costs in accordance with Article R64.2.
For the past 10 months, Mr Osei Kwaku has been seeking justice at CAS after he was disqualified from contesting the 2019 GFA Presidential Elections.
The facts that led to the invocation of this regulation are: Tema Youth FC transferred Joseph Paintsil on loan to Ferencvarosi TC in Hungary in 2017; in 2019, Joseph Paintsil was again transferred to KRC Genk of Belgium for the sum of three million Euros (3,000,000.00); in 2018, Tema Youth FC transferred Gabriel Leveh to KRC Genk of Belgium for the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand Euros (150,000.00).
Also, during the appellant’s tenure as a member of the Executive Committee of the GFA, he was sanctioned for publishing by means of broadcast radio transmitted and heard in Ghana and internationally as saying: “If we spend around $300,000.00 on referees, and stood to benefit about $8,000,000.00 by appearing at the World Cup, I see nothing wrong with it”.