Absurdities In The Beautiful Game

Soccer has never been so politicised in Ghana as relates to the ongoing World Cup tournament. It is a development which apparently erodes the beauty of the internationally savoured sport. It is an established fact that in this country where partisan politics has been taken to a level that has obviously created regrettable divisions among the people, soccer is a major sporting activity that unites us. When the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Joseph Yamin, passed the smelliest remark yet on Ghana’s participation in this World Cup tournament just before the kickoff whistle, he recklessly contributed to undermine what has always been a converging point for Ghanaians from an assortment of political shades. Unfortunately, rather than receive a reprimand from the Flagstaff House for his verbal indiscretion, his loose talk appeared to have paved the way for the President to attempt a clean-up of the mess in a manner which has left many gasping for breath. It is amazing how soccer, a game of chance in which a team can either win or lose, can be raised to the level of a political circus with both the President and his deputy minister being actors. Ghana has participated in international tournaments since independence as has other countries across the world, winning some and losing others, the quality of play sometimes notwithstanding: that is a feature of all sports. We smile or wear grim faces when we win or lose and that is about the story. But when the President loses sleep and orders a stop press in a state-owned newspaper – close to the wee hours of last Monday – so he could start an unscheduled column in the paper, the action provokes worrisome thoughts about the motive. Such a queer order is akin to only dictatorships like North Korea, Cuba or Zimbabwe, not democracies such as ours. The strange dousing PR the paper lent itself for the President to undertake posing as a columnist at the early hours of yesterday – after Ghana had lost her first match to the US – speaks volumes. For us, soccer, like all sports, remains a sport. It is good for the spirit of the nation to keep it that way. Partisan politicisation undertaken by the President and his ministers will further fracture our delicate unity and dangerously so. President Mahama and his government took the inappropriate step of putting a bizarre value to a sporting activity in a manner which provides a disturbing impetus to the politico-sporting projects of the Yamins. Stretching the powers of the Presidency beyond the seams smacks of abuse of office, even if the order meets the favour of party faithful in the ranks of the newspaper. It is not for nothing that FIFA frowns upon the interference of politicians in the management of the beautiful game in member countries. It speaks volumes about the undue politicisation of international soccer overtly and otherwise when the unnecessary comments of politicians prompts a member of the national team to cry out against politicizing their occupation. It is alarming when newspapers consciously join such projects. Over this issue, we join some of our compatriots in their cry for Ghana, our beloved country. The fact is, the Black Stars, win or lose, for all of us as Ghanaians.