Experts needed to manage national stadiums – Advocates CAF official
A CAF Stadium Inspector, Emmanuel Newton Dasoberi, has called for a national dialogue to solve the issue of stadia management which has bedevilled the nation, saying that the time has come for the government to seriously consider the involvement of experts and technocrats in managing the top stadiums to meet the requirements of football's world governing body, FIFA, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Mr Dasoberi said that over time the National Sports Authority (NSA) which manages state-owned stadiums have proven incapable of effectively managing the facilities to meet compliance requirements of football regulatory bodies, especially CAF.
His suggestions on the management systems for the stadiums follows a ban by CAF on the Cape Coast Stadium which has been declared unfit for hosting international matches. As a consequence, current Ghana Premier League champions, Medeama, have been forced to relocate their CAF Champions League group matches to the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi as the alternative venue.
The closure of the Cape Coast Stadium will also impact Ghana’s upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Madagascar, with the Black Stars set to remain in Kumasi as their preferred home ground.
Making a contribution on the Graphic Sports X-Spaces Dialogue on the Topic "Ghana’s Stadium Crisis: Challenges and Impact of CAF Ban", the CAF official emphasised the need for a broad national discussion on the best system to manage the nation's sporting facilities efficiently to also meet strict compliance requirements, as maintaining the existing management systems could have dire implications for Ghana football in the long term.
“We need a national dialogue on this matter. If we don’t agree as a nation that we do not have what it takes to host international matches, then we are going nowhere.”
“The long term plan is to agree and prioritise whatever we need. We cannot say that we are going to renovate all the five. It is not possible to maintain five stadia at the level CAF or FIFA wants. We must agree as a long term measure to get the experts involved, get a contractor like CAF has rightly mentioned, get the pitch experts, people who are seriously into construction to do the right thing,” Mr Dasoberi suggested last Friday.
The former Club Licensing Manager of the Ghana Football Association and currently the Administrative Manager of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, the football administrator called on the government to immediately inject some money into upgrading the Baba Yara Stadium, which is currently the only suitable stadium for international matches, to avoid the unexpected happening to the nation in the near future.
“If we don’t turn to have the right management approach, nothing is going to work. We must, as a country, understand that things have changed. Football is changing and playing in a stadium is not only about the playing field,” he said.
He revealed that some African countries have been requested to CAF to play their World Cup qualifiers in Morocco due to their inability to meet the CAF standards. He thus expressed the fear that Ghana might be affected if the right decisions were not taken.
“So many teams in Africa are going to play their World Cup qualifiers in Morocco, and I have said that if we have Cape Coast closed and we are not careful, what will happen to Baba Yara and others.
“Now the only way to solve some of these is to say that let us get the experts involved. Let us get the people who matter or else we will be told to go and play our matches in Morocco like they told Gambia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Somalia, Sao Tome and others,” he advised.
He also urged the custodians of the stadia to put politics aside and focus on finding a lasting solution to the problem at hand, including prioritising the use of the stadiums for particular international competitions.
“We must have a national plan in place. Let’s invest a lot in it. Let’ stop wasting money to renovate all the five. That money to renovate them is not a joke," he said.
“We must, as a country, agree that what we have right now may not be meeting standards rather than feeling that CAF has written a letter and the next moment we are issuing a statement to say that the stadium is fit. CAF is the regulator so if you say that the stadium is fit do you know what goes into the inspection of stadium?" he queried.