So there is a team that has been demoted to Division Two football for allegedly fixing a match in Ghana and continues to accumulate points in a league it won’t compete in again at least for the next two seasons? Yes, and the name of the team is Ashanti Gold Football Club and its peculiar state thanks to the Ghana Football Association’s “hung” ruling in the aftermath of its investigations into the alleged fixed match against Inter Allies still places the Ghana Premier League in a very bad state.
Inroads betting syndicates have made in the Ghanaian and to a large extent, the African club football scene is reportedly at alarming levels to the point where football game results simply can’t be trusted as genuine. Negative perceptions have clouded Ghana Premier League game results, especially in the latter rounds of league seasons and AshGold and Inter Allies did themselves no favours by playing out a game fraught with questionable in-game sequences.
Suspected own goals, suspected goalkeeping and suspected ambience at the Len Clay Stadium as video footage shows fans at the stadium mentioning a specific scoreline before the game’s commencement. In the face of widespread criticism for its passiveness to address the state of club football in Ghana including a conscientious effort to rid the league of fixed games, the GFA reacted in a well by processing the Ash Gold-Inter Allies case and coming out with solid findings and pronouncements.
However, like so many other legally inclined declarations governing Ghana, the implementation or execution of these powerful words has been a challenge. In the case of the GFA, it goes beyond a challenge because it is messy and makes it difficult to fully go in on applauding them for a good job done. It is not necessarily what you say but how you say it is what counts because people can forget what you say they never forget how you made them feel.
The confused state of the league in connection to AshGold’s situation makes it look like the GFA only published the details of the investigations to avoid taking heat in the face of a handful of poor results on the Association’s path. Prior to the release of the investigations, Ghana’s Under 20 Male side failed to progress from the West African Championship to compete at the continental level and be eligible to defend its title.
The Black Satellites bowed out of the WAFU tournament minus a win and scored just a goal in two games while playing an uninspired brand of football to boot. On the administrative side, GFA President Kurt Okraku was reportedly co-opted to CAF’s Executive Committee but that is yet to be determined leaving the Association in a bad spot public relations wise.
With Ash Gold beating Elmina Sharks 3-1 and set to play Asante Kotoko in spite of its fate, maybe certain quarters that believe the GFA published the investigation findings only to paper over their latest shortcomings have a legitimate argument to make. Beyond Kotoko, the Adansi team plays Bechem United and Dreams FC with the former in the thick of a title challenge and the latter battling to avoid a drop into the relegation zone.
Allowing Ash Gold to play out all these games is a recipe for disaster since the team’s true intentions can’t be trusted and is susceptible to another episode of match-fixing since it has nothing to lose but lots to gain. The GFA can avoid all that by replicating the method used in Basketball’s Euroleague in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Euroleague is Basketball’s version of the UEFA Champions League in reality since Basketball’s world governing body FIBA has created its separate European competition called the FIBA Basketball Champions League. However, the best teams on the European continent compete in the Euroleague and for the 2021-2022 Season, three Russian Clubs (Zenit St. Petersburg, CSKA Moscow and UNICS Kazan) participated in it but got banned because of the invasion.
At the time of the ban, all three teams occupied spots in the top eight in the 18 team standings but the transition was smoothly played out because the Euroleague voided all results accumulated involving the Russian trio and cancelled all games yet to be played by the Russian trio. As such, the league standings weren’t affected despite the drop in the number of participating teams to 15 in the aftermath of the ruling.
The same system was applied in the EuroCup Basketball Tournament (the Europa League version) following the ban on Lokomotiv Kuban. Three months after banning the Russian clubs, the Euroleague 2021-2022 Season including the playoffs have ended with Turkish side Anadolou Efes winning its second title in a row; Italian side Virtus Bologna lifted the EuroCup.
To truly sanitize the club football scene in Ghana beginning with the Premier League, the GFA needs to handle the Post Ash Gold situation better and going down the lane of the Euroleague could aid in this regard.
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