The Biggest and the Greatest!!
E.T. Mensah’s Legacy to Ghana Football
I had actually finished preparing my piece “From the Boardroom” last Friday and was feeling very pleased with myself. I often have to work into the early hours of the morning to complete my work otherwise the editor, Kobina Andoh will invariably be extremely displeased with me! On this occasion I finished ahead of time! I am saying all of this because I have had to now add a few words on what I describe as E.T. Mensah’s Legacy to Ghana Football!
Our loss to Liberia in an all important World Cup qualifier following our dismal loss in Congo simply highlighted the negative structures that E.T.Mensah and his team put in place for Ghana. The buck has to fall somewhere and it is clear in my mind who created the problem and what has to be done.
Although one may think that I am over reacting I would suggest otherwise! Qualification to the World Cup is so crucial to Ghana Football, Ghana Sports and the Ghanaian economy that failure to qualify can only be considered unthinkable. Some of the most obvious benefits are as follows;
• Multi million dollar funding for Ghana football
• Secondary donation and sponsorship “deals” for Ghana football
• Secondary financial benefits for other Ghana sports
• Tourism benefits for Ghana
• Investment realisation opportunities for the Ghanaian economy
• Educational and other social investment opportunities
Failure is therefore unthinkable. Unfortunately E.T.Mensah has ensured that with the “structures” he has put into place and which Alhaji Jawula has failed to remove or change since the Minister was removed from office, Ghana soccer is in deep deep deep trouble! At a time when Ghana football had been stabilised with Coach Dossena and we had entered the first stage of the World Cup qualifiers successfully the Minister fired him. I was deeply saddened then to hear Prof. Mills declare his support for E.T. Mensah. For the intelligent there was nothing intelligent about the way and manner in which E.T. Mensah sought to position Ghana football! History has taught even the most ignorant about the fact that our local coaches always suffer with respect to disciplinary problems with the senior National team. I am not in agreement with any level of disrespect on the part of players towards the coach but the reality is also that the local coaches appear to have a problem which in the end affects our ability to win! World football has also changed considerably and until such a time as our refresher courses for our local coaches changes from what it is at present it will always be difficult for them to compete at the World stage! One should never attempt to bring or compare the triumphs of the over aged junior teams as a yardstick for anything other than fraud!
E.T. Mensah’s appointment of Cecil Jones Attuquafio was always doomed to failure. I had believed that the players desire to go to the World Cup may override all other considerations.
But I was wrong. The system played, the inability to pick the right team, the inability to read the game, the inability to control the players and the inability to make the right substitutions all pointed to disaster and disaster is what we got!
Black Stars 1 Lone Stars 3 was/is a major disaster. In depressing the entire nation we must note that in reality we have lost potentially US$400m in lost revenue!!
We must now move forward and make sure that we redeem ourselves and do the impossible. We must win key matches away from home. With Nigeria winning 3-0 against Sudan and Liberia also winning in Accra the task is an uphill one!
It is important that our new Minister be bold to make some immediate and radical changes to the FA and the management of the Black Stars. Unfortunately I believe that Cecil Jones will have to stand aside. He is a fine coach and I believe that Accra Hearts of Oak need him at this time and in the future. He has the ability to assist his club to further success I am sure of that! I also believe that it is crucial that the new Minister make other relevant and immediate changes to our game. People like Afranie must be instantly and summarily dismissed. He like his master (E.T.Mensah) must now be confined to the rubbish heap! Ghana does not need them. The structure and administration of the FA must also change. I have sat on the fence about a number of points but now feel that it is time for the entire FA to resign! The buck has to stop somewhere and this is time and the place! Alhaji Jawula and Agrah in particular must resign ahead of the FA congress! New electives should then seek to sweep out the old system and bring in some honesty and integrity!
Ghana needs change now. Mr. Minister I hope that you will have the courage to take the IMMEDIATE needs of the country into consideration and sweep out the old and bring in the new!
Negotiating as Kotoko
As we make quiet moods in the transfer market I am constantly surprised by the revelations that appear in the various media. Kotoko are constantly being portrayed as an organisation that professes to be professional but fail to be so in the transfer market. I am simply amazed for the following reasons.
Kotoko has not used any teams players without there being some prior communication with the Clubs in question.
With respect to transfer matters we have either come to an understanding or are waiting for the Club Chairmen to agree to a date for discussions.
Negotiations always start from somewhere and end somewhere. We are in the middle and it is for this reason that we have chosen to be silent.
We cannot afford to keep the team waiting with respect to our training schedule and therefore where possible the players have joined us!
The way and manner in which other clubs choose to go to some of the media rather than come or call Kotoko management if they have a particular problem is unprofessional.
Negotiations of any sort and manner in the spirit of true professionalism are handled between two parties and in confidence and not in the media.
We believe that there are areas of recourse should a club not be happy with the conduct of another club with respect to the purchase, loan or otherwise of their players. They have the option of going to the FA, writing to Kotoko, instructing their player not to train/play with Kotoko.
Registration of players has not commenced. We have therefore come to various agreements which we have either paid monies on as deposit or made full payment for.
Since the last edition of the Express we have had another article in one of the sports papers attributed to statements made by the B.A. United management. I find this very unfortunate for a number of reasons.
We have already come to an understanding with both B.A. United and Godfred Yeboah with respect to his movement to Kotoko and have agreed memorandum of understandings between the clubs and the player. Against this we have made deposit monies available to both B.A. United and the player. B.A. United have now demanded that the balance be paid before the end of next week! We believe that the relationship we have built with B.A. United over the last 18 months warrants much greater respect than has been given us. I say this for the following reasons;
• We gave Afriyie to B.A. United on a free transfer.
• We also made Frank Adjei available to them and they have now made the same player available to play for Goldfields.
For the media Kotoko is big news it is unfortunate that true investigative journalism in Ghana is now virtually extinct!
The media and Kotoko
They say if you are not important people will never talk about you. In Kotoko’s case this is certainly happening. We know that we are the biggest club in Ghana with the largest support base and I suppose we must be flattered that the media houses (most of whose writers and radio presenters are clearly anti Kotoko) feel that without Kotoko they would be nobody! We have week in and week out been presented with stories so one sided and yet packaged by the irresponsible in such a manner as to present as some unprofessional body. I am so lucky that in recognising both the limitations and bias of certain segments of the media that we decided from the onset to establish the Asante Kotoko Express. We are now the No. 1 selling soccer newspaper in Ghana! I say this for those who wish to hear Kotoko’s side on all matters. I believe that from our current circulation (which has increased in the off season) that Kotoko supporters are happy to receive the accurate information and news about Kotoko from the Express!
At present I find it somewhat ironic that when there are other issues at stake and of interest the media houses are not prepared to give them more than a passing mention..
• Hearts of Oak have failed to pay their Championship winning side any of their bonus’
• Hearts of Oak like many other clubs are using players they intend to buy to properly assess their worth and no monies have been paid.
• The Zamalek match is of huge importance to Hearts and Ghana and yet the coverage has been mediocre compared to the Kotoko revelations.
• Kotoko players training with other teams (some without permission) have not been highlighted by any of the same media houses.
• With Adu Poku wanting to leave Kotoko it is somewhat ironic to find some media houses suggesting that Kotoko not charge Hearts an excessive amount. Last year when we were desirous to purchase Osei Kufuor and Hearts quoted an amount in excess of ¢300,000,000 (the rate was ¢2,750 to $1 at the time. It is now ¢7,300 to $1).
We accept that we are the biggest and can understand the envy that causes and brings to our enemies and opponents!
Player Transfers, FIFA and EUFA the controversy!
We have recently been listening and monitoring the proposed changes in the regulations governing the sale and transfer of players. The debate has been between the two giants FIFA and UEFA. In the middle are the laws governing the European Commission. Whether we like it or not we have to appreciate that there is a need for us to be up to date on the current movements and proposed movements in the International transfer market. After all this will affect our players who want to play in Europe in future!
The under listed is the most important segment of the ongoing debate. When the debate is finalised and conclusions reached I would hope that “negotiation” would have been of use to you.
1. The European Commission has objected to certain provisions of the FIFA Regulations concerning the international transfer of players. These objections are based on the competition provisions of the EC Treaty (in particular, Article 81 thereof).
2. The football bodies have serious doubts regarding the competition law analysis put forward by the Commission (in particular, as regards the economic impact of the transfer rules).
3. It has been argued by the Commission that the transfer system serves to reinforce the position of larger clubs, to the detriment of smaller clubs. However, a detailed economic study has been prepared which shows the opposite is the case. This study proves that the system actually functions as an income re-distribution mechanism in football, providing smaller clubs, leagues and associations with much needed finance. The income re-distributed through the operation of the system enables many small clubs to survive, and to continue training and developing young players.
4. Though the football bodies consider the Commission’s competition law analysis to be incorrect, they also acknowledge that the current transfer system has some imperfections and could be improved. Consequently, football has agreed to come forward with alternative proposals by October 31, 2000, and to discuss these proposals with the European Commission.
5. In any new system, it is essential to preserve the positive aspects of the current regime. These are, in particular:
– the maintenance of contractual stability;
– the reward of investment in the training of players;
– the redistribution of income.
B. Measures proposed
It is proposed to amend the FIFA rules which have been objected to by the Commission and to implement an alternative system. The main elements in the alternative system are as follows:
1. Prohibition on the international transfer of minors
In order to guard against the economic exploitation of young people, we believe it is necessary to prohibit the international transfer of players aged under 18, except in specific defined circumstances. Essentially, the situation in which the transfer of a minor would be permitted is when the family of the player moves to a new country.
A young player under the age of 18 is in a vulnerable position. Such players are often more than willing to give up their academic education to pursue a sporting career (even though the chance of achieving professional success is very limited). Football bodies have a responsibility towards such youngsters, to ensure they do not leave their home and family and education behind, only to find that the dream of becoming a professional player fails to materialise.
A more detailed proposal as regards the transfer of minors has been forwarded.
2. Training compensation for young players
As noted, one of the benefits of the current transfer system is to re-distribute income to the “grass roots”. This allows smaller clubs and associations to continue with their training and development efforts.
The football bodies have designed a “training and education package”, which is intended to reward clubs investing in the training of young players. This package includes a financial “solidarity” element, which is also a characteristic of the current transfer system.
The detailed content of this package has been outlined. It is envisaged that training compensation be paid on every transfer of a player up to the completion of his training (at the age of 23).
For the sake of clarity, it should be mentioned that training compensation would also be paid when a player under the age of 23 moves at the end of his contract. Such a possibility was envisaged by Advocate General Lenz in his Opinion in the Bosman case.
Training compensation would be paid by the new club but would also be partly financed by certain “solidarity” mechanisms, including a levy on transfer fees and a solidarity fund financed, inter alia, by income derived from the central marketing of television rights.
3. Respect for contracts (“pacta sunt servanda”)
The maintenance of contractual stability is an essential element in the player/club relationship. Such stability is crucial for clubs in their “team building” efforts and also offers vital employment security for players. In addition, the relationship between a player and a club also has an important “public” dimension, since supporters identify with the players in “their” team and do not expect them to change club at the end of every season. This is, in fact, one of the specific characteristics of sport which sets it apart from other industries.
In order to maintain such contractual stability the football bodies propose that, as a matter of sporting regulation, any contract lasting for a period of up to 3 years must be respected (by the player and the club). The football bodies also propose the introduction of player contracts with a maximum duration of 5 years.
4. Transfer periods
Again, in order to maintain contractual stability and to protect the integrity of sporting competition, the football bodies also propose to introduce certain periods when the transfer of players may not occur.
What is proposed is two unified transfer periods and a limit of one transfer per player per season.
5. Arbitration system
In cases where there is a breach of contract (for a player of any age), the football bodies propose the introduction of a new arbitration system.
This system would be based on two key elements:
– respect for national law
– respect for the specificity of sport
As regards the first element (respect for national law), the arbitration system would apply objective criteria to calculate compensation, taking into account relevant principles of national labour law.
As regards the second element (respect for the specificity of sport) the system would also have power to apply sports disciplinary sanctions, as a deterrent to unethical behaviour (for example, to sanction a club which had procured a breach of contract).
The arbitration system would include a tribunal with an independent chairman and each party (club, player) would select an expert from an approved list. This list would be composed of an equal number of player representatives and club representatives. Arbitration would be voluntary. Obviously, the system would have to establish its credibility with all interested parties.
In this new scenario, it would also remain possible for the parties involved (buying club, selling club, player) to freely agree on a transfer amount and thus avoiding recourse to the arbitration tribunal or the risk of sports disciplinary sanctions.
Finally, the proposed system would be intended to govern the international transfer of players. Having said that, the football bodies believe that the system could serve as a model for national regimes, which national associations could adjust to suit their specific circumstances and in conformity with their national law.
6. Transitional arrangements
As the economic report makes clear, the transfer system is a vital element in the financing of football, particularly for the smaller clubs and smaller leagues and national associations. Any major changes to the system could entail serious financial consequences for the economically weakest members of the football family.
Against this background, it is essential that any revised system serves to maintain contractual stability and to properly reward clubs, leagues and associations which continue to invest in the training and development of players. Unless these objectives can be achieved under the new system, it would be essential to provide for appropriate transitional measures which, at a minimum, protect existing contractual arrangements between clubs and players.
I met with my father this week and I had to reflect on the greatness of his past life. Sometimes we have to reflect on our own situation based on our environment and those who have made it all possible. In my case I have been blessed with special parents. Abena Apomasu, my mother is woman I owe my life to and B.A. Mensah is a man who has set a standard which I have to surpass.
Bram Larbi Again
After my recent article in which I mentioned the behaviour of Bram Larbi with respect to players who wanted to play for Kotoko and who had been pressurised by Bram Larbi not to play, I understand that he has taken offence. This is just too bad because we know him what he is. He says he wants to take me on! I look forward to the challenge. I just hope he fully and really knows what and who he is about to enter into conflict with and the implications for his relatives and clients (he is E.T.Mensah’s Lawyer!). We have witnesses who both heard him and we have testimony from one player in particular. I am surprised that a man like Bram Larbi should want more trouble. I would like to place this into the proper context by outlining some facts about Bram Larbi.
He first came to my notice when as Ato Ahwoi’s brother in law he assumed the managerial seat at International Tobacco after the unfortunate seizure of the factory when his brother in Law Ato Ahwoi was in Government. This seemingly nepotic act was not based on any Internationally acclaimed management experience. We also noted that his appointment was certainly not based on any knowledge of the Tobacco Industry. I find it somewhat sad that this great Industry was allowed to assume a totally different identity.
Once Bram Larbi comes to the table I will then chronicle all the decisions and incidents involving Kotoko and the committees of which he has been a part or been associated with or been implicated by parties on or associated !
I want Ghana football to move forward and I am pleased that in the recent elections Ghalca did not think of electing him back to the FA.
Fabulous – the greatest