The Police should take the lion’s share of the blame in the increasing cases of insecurity in Ghana football. I understand why the top brass of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) don’t like criticism that they are in slumber as the Police on security issues.
Based on my insights on efforts of the GFA in ensuring security at match venues, there’s evidence to show that, the FA is committed to the safety and security of all at matches but that is just not enough. It’s not enough because nothing seems to be changing positively relative to security in spite of the GFA’s effort. Insecurity at some venues is threatening to destabilise the quest to reignite our passion for the game.
I have no intent to slam the GFA or the Police for nothing. My Facebook publication that, the GFA and the Police are asleep on security matters may not have gone too well for some people but it doesn’t negate the overriding point that, we risk losing precious lives once again if we do act decisively on violence in our game.
The GFA has sanctioning referees, fining and suspending club officials besides banning riotous venues. So, why the increasing incidents of violence? We aren’t confronting the problem head-on: Arresting, prosecuting and jailing hooligans have been missing entirely in addressing the canker of football violence.
Take the recent case of fans invading the pitch and chasing the referee in the B. A. United vs Real Tamale United (RTU) game at the Coronation Park, Sunyani on Sunday. Police, in video clips, were seen running after fans who beat the referee for a perceived wrong penalty call. Later, RTU would be escorted out of Sunyani amidst warning shots (fired from the bucket of police pickup vehicle) ostensibly to wade off fans outside the Park who were pelting the RTU bus with stones.
I don’t know if there were arrests but from past incidents we’ve had no arrests, prosecution or incarceration of culprits. Indeed, where arrests were made, either club officials pleaded with the Police for the release of suspects or they refused to corporate with police. The case of Mighty Royals comes to mind. Two club officials, the CEO and Assistant coach, both assaulted the referee with the CEO even threatening to kill the referee. This was in March this year. Months after the GFA fined and banned these individuals, no police action has been taken against them although they are known club officials in Wanamafo. There’s also video evidence of their assault on the referee.
Why won’t the Police arrest them for investigation? Why won’t others be emboldened for lawlessness at venues, when they know, after GFA sanctions, which is very minimal to that of the state, Police will take no action against them? Our police stand accused on football violence. We can’t completely eliminate hooliganism from the but where social misfits or rogues parading as fans or officials become lawless and the state show little or no interest in punishing them as required by law, lives are likely to be lost.
Further, our game risks losing growth or developmental opportunities. These should worry everyone in the game. For now, I neither envy the GFA President, Kurt Okraku nor do I really understand the police inaction on hooliganism. I only sympathize with all who have invested in Ghana football. There’s a lot to be lost if decisive actions aren’t taken on football violence.
By Jerome Otchere