By Andrew Warshaw
June 8 – Just days before FIFA’s top brass and entire membership are both due to meet on the eve of the World Cup, explosive new corruption allegations have plunged African football into disgrace and led to Ghana dissolving its national federation.
The bombshell allegations focus on Kwesi Nyantakyi, the second most powerful person in African football and head of the Ghanaian FA, who appeared to be pictured in a BBC documentary accepting a $65,000 bribe after meeting with an undercover reporter posing as a businessman seeking to sponsor the Ghanaian football league.
Not only is Nyantakyi also first vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) but, hugely embarrassingly for Fifa, a member of its all-powerful ruling Council, bringing the stench of corruption back into the bosom of an organisation so keen to shake off its tarnished past.
With that in mind, FIFA have been quick to make sure Nyantaki won’t attend Sunday’s Council session in Moscow or the full Congress three days later. He has been immediately banned for 90 days by the FIFA ethics committee, with a possible 45-day extension, pending a formal investigation for allegedly breaching ethics rules.
It is not clear whether his country will be able to take part in the vote for the 2026 World Cup host where Ghana was due to back Morocco.
A statement signed by Ghana’s Information Minister, Mustapha Amid, read: “The documentary exposes the gross malfunctioning of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), characterised by the widespread fraud, corruption and bribery. As a result of the pervasive nature of the rot within GFA, government has decided as follows:
“The conduct of all officials of the GFA, together with that of the suspended Acting Director General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Robert Sarfo Mensah, shown in the documentary to be involved in questionable, potentially criminal acts, is forthwith, referred to the police for further investigation and appropriate action. The police are to take all such relevant measures as are necessary to ensure that the contents of the documentary are rapidly and thoroughly investigated.
“Having regard to the widespread nature of the apparent rot involving top GFA officials, top NSA officials, match commissioners, football administrators and referees, government has decided to take immediate steps to have the GFA dissolved.”
For its part the GFA said it wanted to “place on record that there will be no attempt of a cover-up or shield any of our members caught in alleged acts of corruption. The GFA wishes to assure all that as an institution it does not condone any manner of corrupt practices.”
With the Ghanaian government taking unilateral action in the wake of the two-hour documentary, as well as suspending Nyantaki Fifa could cite government interference and intervene there too by throwing out Ghana before Wednesday’s Congress.
The documentary also claims to show referees and football officials in other African countries accepting money to rig games including Kenya’s Aden Range Marwa who was set to officiate at the World Cup in Russia but who has now been dropped by his national referees’ association, the second World Cup-bound official to be stood down after Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al Mirdasi, one of Asia’s most experienced officials, was removed from the tournament for seeking bribes.
Last month Nyantakyi was questioned by Ghanaian authorities after being arrested on charges of “defrauding by false pretences” after he was caught on video accusing the nation’s president of corruption. He denied all wrongdoing and was later released on bail.
President Nana Akufo-Addo had ordered the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to detain Nyantakyi after seeing the documentary in question before it was shown publicly on Wednesday for the first time in front of diplomats, lawmakers, government ministers and members of the public.
In the video, Kwesi Nyantakyi allegedly claims: “Ghana is the easiest place to do business. All you have to do is to give the President of Ghana $5 million and the Vice President $3 million. I have the President in my pocket. I see him every day. As for the refs, all you need is to give them GHC20 and girls and they are sorted.”
Despite previous unproven allegations of involvement in match-fixing, Kwesi Nyantakyi has been widely respected in Ghana after the successes of the Ghana national team under his tutelage. Although the Black Stars failed to reach this year’s World Cup finals, they were quarter-finalists in South Africa in 2010 and their squad includes a raft of highly-rated overseas players.
The damaging new claims emerged just as Ghana were about to play Iceland in Reykavik and local reports in Accra said Nyantakyi has already submitted his resignation as a member of the FIFA Council though this was denied by the GFA which countered he remained in all his football positions.
Spokesman Sannie Dara was quoted as saying: “It’s not true that president Kwesi Nyantakyi has resigned as a member of the FIFA Council. Those reports are false. Kindly discard the report. President Nyantakyi is still a FIFA Council member.”
Not any longer after FIFA’s own intervention
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org