FIFA

Some members of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), led by Brong Ahafo Regional Football Association (BARFA), has accused world football governing body, FIFA, of attempting to usurp the powers of Congress and micro-manage the association.

A letter, signed by Ralph Gyamberah, Chairman of BARFA, on behalf of 43 other members of Congress, and sent to FIFA Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, on August 31, 2020, was a response to Veron Mosengo-Omba, Chief Member Association Officer for Africa and the Caribbean, who suggested to Congress members to ‘prorogue’ steps to make amendments to current Statutes of the GFA because it would return the FA to its status quo before Normalisation.

The 44 members made proposals for changes to at least, 51 articles and clauses to the Statutes ahead of the 26th Ordinary Congress on July 28.

Notable amongst the proposals were the expansion of Congress from 120 to 132, and the Executive Council from 11 to 18.

The GFA, through its Secretary-General, Prosper Harrison Addo on August 7, requested for FIFA’s guidance on the proposed amendments before submitting them to Congress for approval or otherwise.

The request was described as ‘alien’ to the Statutes governing football in Ghana by a section of Congress.

However, on August 26, Mr Veron Mosengo-Omba, responding to the letter from the GFA on behalf of FIFA, said the 2019 Statutes reflects the current landscape of football in Ghana, thus they should discontinue the processes to make changes.

He added that “…far-reaching changes, such as substantial modification to the GFA membership and the GFA Executive Council composition must be discussed with Fifa over several meetings and/or exchanges of correspondence,” the letter stated.

He claimed the proposed amendments to the current statutes are not balanced and could adversely affect future elections or any sort of decision by the relevant legislative body.

Increasing the Executive Council from 11 to 18, FIFA noted would affect the efficiency of ‘decision-making process’.

But, BARFA Chairman, Gyamberah said Veron failed to ‘adequately address the issues presented to FIFA by Mr Harrison Addo’.

He noted that the correspondence from the football head is silent on over 50 proposals submitted for guidance, but offered comments on only two.

He questioned why FIFA was not categorical on whether the over 50 proposals could be considered because each proposal made to be included in the Congress agenda is ‘independent’ of the other and can be ‘considered alone on its own merits’.

Since all proposals need not be considered together as new experiences could lead to new ideas that could influence changes to the statutes, he concluded ‘there is no justification for FIFA’ to ask GFA to discontinue discussions on amendments to the GFA statutes.

He also disagreed with FIFA’s claim on the expansion of Congress and Executive Council size could affect future elections and the efficiency of decision-making.

The position of FIFA has been described as ‘unconvincing, baseless and unmeritorious’.

It is ‘dangerous to rely on highly subjective, unscientific’ claims of undue influence on federation elections in the near future.

“A cursory look at the Congresses and Executive Councils of analogous Federations as the GFA sharply exposes the poor basis and inherent contradiction in the unsubstantiated analysis contained in the FIFA letter. Cameroon Football Federation has 91 delegates, the Executive Council has 17 members.

“…Cote d’Ivoire has 130 delegates for its Congress with an Executive Council of 20. Kenya has 88 delegates for its Congress with 15 on its Executive Committee. Uganda has 88 delegates with 13 members on its Executive Committee. Togo has 54 delegates at its Congress with a 12-member Executive Committee.

“South Africa Football Association has 189 delegates at Congress with a 23-member Executive Committee. In Europe, Spain has 180 delegates at Congress with 18-Executive Committee. Italy has 288 at its Congress with 56-member Executive Committee. France has 254 delegates at its Congress with a 21-member Executive Committee.”

With these examples cited, despite the varied jurisdictions, he said ‘FIFA has no benchmark or yardstick for determining sizes of Congresses and Executive Councils of MAs.’

The size of each Congress and ExCo, he noted is determined by ‘Congress of each MA.’

“A qualitative analysis of the data sizes of Congresses and Executive Councils of respective countries irresistibly point out the folly and intellectual inadequacy of the position espoused by Veron Mosengo-Omba in the FIFA letter.”

Increasing the number of GFA Congress and ExCo to 132 and 18 respectively is not out of the ‘ordinary’. “…we find the recent letter of FIFA signed by Veron Mosengo-Omba a subtle attempt to undermine the clear and unambiguous stipulations of article 15(1), 32 and 34 of the GFA Statutes.”

He reminded FIFA that, per article 14(1(f) of their statutes, member associations have the obligation to ratify statutes that are in line with FIFA requirements. “Proposed amendments have nothing to do with a return of the structure of the GFA to the status quo.”

Mr Gyamberah in wrapping up his letter said members cannot reconcile the powers of Congress of the GFA to make statutes, and the ‘overbearing hand of FIFA to issue instructions’ and directives or guidance relating to making amendments to the Statutes of MA.

“FIFA statutes do not intend to clothe with powers to engage in the micro-management of MAs, but that’s exactly what Mr Veron’s letter seeks to achieve,” portion of the letter alleged.

It is an ‘exercise in [the] perpetuation of illegality and the GFA and FIFA cannot be privy to such lawlessness.’

The ‘attitude to Fifa through Mr Mosengo-Omba mimicked a case of an illegal usurpation of the power of the Congress of GFA.’

It also appears, they said, ‘complete interference of the autonomy and the independence of the legislative function of the GFA Congress in clear breach of Article 19(1) of the FIFA statutes and 5(3) of the GFA statutes.”

The GFA is independent and shall remain independent from political interference from third parties, they claim.

“The categorical directive to the GFA Congress to prorogue discussions on [the] amendment of its statutes, is with respect, out of order,” the letter concluded.

The GFA will convene today for Congress. It is unclear if they would discuss other proposals not mentioned by FIFA in their letter to the FA last week.