A member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mr. Oteng Arthur says that the Ghana Football Association is accountable to the state aside the world football governing body, FIFA.
Oteng-Arthur, Vice Chair of the PIAC, was speaking to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry looking into Ghana’s World Cup fiasco on Thursday, which was day 22 of the sittings.
The PIAC is a sub-committee of the Ghana Football Association.
“Demanding accountability from the FA is not interference because it is enshrined in the statutes of Fifa,” he said, supporting his claim with a Fifa document titled Standard Cooperation Agreement of Fifa.
Oteng-Arthur educated the gallery on the work of the PIAC as a body ensuring that the public is satisfied with the operations of state-run bodies in various sectors.
Any legal foundations?
The Vice Chair told the Commission that the GFA, aside Fifa, could answer questions from the central government and that his assertion was based on a legal guideline from Fifa.
Here is an interaction between himself and counsel for the commission, Jonathan Acquah.
Acquah: “The general impression is that the GFA is an autonomous body and accountable to only FIFA and no other body. You told the Commision that you are a football administrator. Will you say that it is the true position that the GFA is accountable to only FIFA and not to anybody else?”
Oteng Arthur: “My Lord, that is not true.”
Acquah: “Why would you say that?”
Oteng Arthur: “FIFA has areas where the FA is accountable to it and where it is accountable to the state.”
Acquah: “What is your point of reference? What document or statute or anything makes you take this position?”
Oteng Arthur: “My Lord, I came across it in a FIFA document titled ‘Protocol Agreement’ that requires the various football associations and their governments to sign and determine the roles that FIFA and governments can play in the administration of football.
Acquah: “You just told the Commission that FA is not only accountable to FIFA but to government too. That is the position you just espoused.”
Oteng Arthur: “Yes, my Lord.”
Acquah: “You say you have a document that makes you take that position. What provisions of that document makes you take that position?”
Oteng Arthur: “My Lord, when it comes to Section 4 article 31, subsection 1, that portion talks about finance and it reads: ‘the further object of this agreement is to ensure good management and transparency in the use of financial subsidies and subsidies in kind granted to the association by FIFA, the relevant confederation and any other sporting authority as well as government and local authorities.”
Justice Dzamefe: “What does it mean?”
Oteng Arthur: “It means that where there are subsidies granted to the FA, then the FA is bound by the agreement it signed to ensure good management and transparency in the handling of the finances.”
Oteng Arthur also stated that Article 39 of the Protocol Agreement highlights that the FA and government should meet annually to discuss the finances of the FA and where possible, a FIFA official could be invited to the discussions.
Justice Dzamefe inquired if the Ghana Football Association was aware of this provision but Mr. Oteng Arthur could not confirm.
However, the PIAC member revealed that the directive was established by FIFA in 2007 and was ratified a year later.
Oteng-Arthur, owner of a division two-team called Highlanders FC, also told the Commission that the PIAC, after its inauguration in 2011, had onlt two meetings, a claim that sharply contradicted an earlier testimony by the chairman of the PIAC, Aloysius Dankabe.
Infighting, divide and rule
The Commission of Inquiry also heard how infighting and turf wars crippled the ability of the PIAC to defend the public’s interest in how football in Ghana is run.
Professor Aloysius Dankabe, who also doubles as an Executive Member of the Ghana Football Association, told the commission that the PIAC held a series of meetings, which was contrary to what his Vice Chair said later.
He admitted also that the PAIC thus was unable to fulfil its role in over five major football tournaments, including in the last World Cup in Brazil.
This testimony was key because in over two weeks of sittings, the commission has traced a pattern of wastefulness of public funds, operational negligence, and little due diligence poor management in the entire Brazil 2014 effort by the country.
Professor Dankabe sourced the role of the PIAC from Article 70 of the Football Association Statutes which include being able to “liaise with the Ministry responsible for sports in the provision of funds by government for the purposes of building the national football teams.”
The PIAC was formed in 2010 with the input of football legend Abedi Pele and legal luminaries as Ernest Thompson (of Hearts of Oak fame), Thaddeus Sory and Oteng Arthur.
Dankabe told the shocked commission that the PIAC had no supporting staff, no secretariat and did not even know who to liaise with between the Ministry of Finance, Sports and the GFA.
This meant that the statutory role which is to ensure that they scrutinize football policies relating to facilities, funding and technical development of the game was left completely at the mercy of politicking.
The five member PAIC committee, it was heard, had three GFA appointees and two government appointees.
But they only met once in 2012.
The key “bone of contention”, as the Professor put it was bickering over “who should have the bigger stake”. This haggling, Dankabe confirmed with hesitance, was between the FA and the government.
Aside the Public Interest Committee, popular national team follower, Abraham Boakye, also known as “One Man Supporter also appeared before the Commission to answer questions on supporters and their activities in relation to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
By: Nathan Quao and Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/Ghana