Ashanti Gold v Inter Allies: match-fixing scandals mar the beauty of Ghana football

A few moments later, this same man Musah Hashmin, only a second half substitute, was at it again. He collects the ball on the edge of his area, deliberately ignores his goalkeeper’s call for a simple pass, and then remorselessly plants the ball at the back of the net to give Ashanti Gold an emphatic 7-0 lead. Shortly after which he’s subbed off at the behest of his coach. His true calling in this game achieved to great effect – (apparently he doesn’t condone betting, and his own goals were an act of rebellion against the match-fixing which had already been brokered behind the scenes).

And so the game concludes with Ashanti Gold bagging all three points, adding a further 7 goals to their goals scored column and ultimately feeling as triumphant as ever. The already doomed fate of Inter Allies doesn’t change much with that result. They have, to no one’s surprise, been already relegated from the top-flight and now need to wrestle their way back up sometime in the future. However long it takes.

But, genuinely, what is there to be learned from all this? What lesson does this teach us? On some level, the idea that corruption and conspiracy in our local game have been completely dispelled remains largely false. Spoiler alert: there’s still corruption. Spoiler alert: there’s still conspiracy. “When greed and corruption become the norm,” what then remains, really? Three years on since Anas Aremeyaw Anas shed a great deal of light on the rot eating away football in Ghana, what tangible progress has been made? And if indeed, you surmise the “love is back,” how best do we measure the negative impact incidents such as these have on the general population?

Amid the increasing dangers posed by thuggery aimed at match officials, the glaring and sudden emergence of match-fixing at the tail end of the season only casts dark shadows on the league. There’s no authentic progress if we take one step forward only to take two steps back. Perhaps, in many ways, another genuine example of a crooked match is Hearts of Oak’s one-all draw with Liberty at the Accra Sports Stadium a week before.

As news of Asante Kotoko’s defeat to Bechem United broke – a result which meant Hearts would be declared league champions even if their game ended in a stalemate – and this new information got circulated in the Hearts-Liberty game (a match delayed for several minutes before kickoff for no real reason) and with a relegation-threatened Liberty trailing by a goal and battling for their lives, many across the country interestingly enough could smell an inevitable Liberty goal.

An equaliser that would restore parity and also restore Liberty’s unwavering hopes of escaping relegation. This game ended 1-1. Still, Liberty were unable to escape the jaws of tragedy, and got relegated in their all-or-nothing drawn match against King Faisal on final day.

And so we are all tempted to ask, to what end? At what point do stakeholders who partake in such dishonourable acts which have huge tendencies of ravaging this beautiful sport apply the brakes. Perhaps in our hastened attempt to find a common enemy to atone for crimes committed in Ghana football, it was probably naive of us to assume slaughtering Kwesi Nyantakyi and condemning him to eternal rest would ultimately put an end to all these crooked activities in the game.

Maybe we should scrutinise club administrators more. Maybe we should scrutinise club stakeholders more. Maybe even the middlemen of clubs who operate so frictionlessly in the background should be surveyed again and again. For all the massive toil and commitment of the football media to resurrect and ignite passion and love for the game after years where the masses expressed deep misgivings about the local league, it’s quite sickening that perhaps all this will be in vain.

No single club should be allowed to bend the rules for their own selfish, self-serving interest. No single club should be allowed to become a law unto themselves. It only can be hoped the governing body of football, the Ghana Football Association, would investigate matters with keen interest and mete out appropriate sanctions to any club found culpable. The unquenchable passion for football in this nation supersedes any greed that continues to fester in the hearts of a few corrupted individuals.

Bright Antwi.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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