The fall of Nyantakyi : The thirteen-year tenure of Kwesi Nyantakyi as president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) ended in disgrace when he was caught under hidden camera taking a bribe money in the Tiger Eye PI’S Ghana football corruption expose of June 6th , 2018.
As the 2022 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner , in this piece , we take a look back at the rise and fall of the man whose era saw the Black Stars play at the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time ever in Germany 2006.
After the corruption video was publicly shown in Accra on June 6th , 2018 , Nyantakyi resigned as GFA president two days later.
On the 30th October , 2018 the adjudicatory chamber of the independent FIFA Ethics Committee went ahead to ban the former President of the GFA for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.
In the FIFA statement , the following explanation was given :
“The adjudicatory chamber found Mr Nyantakyi guilty of having violated art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) and art. 22 (Commission) of the FIFA Code of Ethics, 2012 edition. As a consequence, Mr Nyantakyi is banned for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level. Additionally, a fine in the amount of CHF 500,000 has been imposed on Mr Nyantakyi. The decision was notified to Mr Nyantakyi today, and the ban comes into force immediately.”
However after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ( CAS) , the former most powerful person of Ghana football saw his life-time ban reduced to 15 years in October 2020.
But don’t make mistakes the Nyantakyi era as head of the Ghana Football Association did not start with chaos and corruption.
Rather the foundation of the beginning of his tenure was marked by success and joy. His first biggest sporting victory was overseeing the Black Stars qualify for the 2006 Germany FIFA World Cup. Even though he was not the president when the qualification series of the tournament began , the Black Stars picked their ticket to Germany when Nyantakyi was in charge.
In Germany , the team of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, Haminu Dramani, Asamoah Gyan and co were only beaten twice – by Italy in the group stage and Brazil in the Round of 16.
This group of players brought honor and global fame to our country as the only African team that passed the group stage of the 2006 tournament and it goes without saying that the GFA of Nyantakyi equally played an important role for this success and they rightly deserved credit for that.
Two years later Ghana hosted the 26th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations dubbed the “CAN 2008”. It was a proud moment for all Ghanaians when the West African country treated the whole of Africa and the world at large to a memorable soccer tournament.
Even though the Black Stars were beaten by Alain N’Kong’s single goal in the semi-finals by Cameroon at the Accra Sports Stadium, the good memories of CAN 2008 are still fresh in the minds of many Ghanaian football fans.
People still recall the heroics of striker Manuel Junior Agogo who created his own legend during this tournament. How popular he was during this time and I do remember the famous “Kangaroo” goal celebrations of the Black Stars in this competition.
The government of course committed huge financial resources to organize this Nations Cup but it was also a big achievement for the Nyantakyi-led GFA.
This was the era the Black Stars enjoyed unflinching support from the Ghanaian public. The numerous fan parks organized during Ghana games were welcomed by millions of soccer fans across the country and the dramatic Grace Ashy Black Stars song is still a sweet melody even as at today.
This was the time of dignity for the Ghana Football Association and the Ghanaian public was inalienably attached to the Black Stars.
Ghana conquered the world , Nyantakyi’s biggest feat
In 2009 the Black Satellites of Ghana made history by becoming the first African team to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup when Sellas Tetteh coached the likes of Andre Ayew, Agyeman Badu, Opoku Agyemang, Jonathan Mensah, Dominic Adiyiah to annex the trophy at the expense of the big favorites Brazil at the Cairo International Stadium on October 16, 2009. Ghana , therefore , became the first and still the only African team to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
This feat prompted the then Ivory Coast president H.E Laurent Gbagbo to invite the 34-man Satellites contingent – including GFA president Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi – to honor them in Abidjan.
In 2015 when I visited the Ivory Coast Football Federation head office in Abidjan, what most people mentioned in relation to Kwesi Nyantakyi was this unprecedented Black Satellites U20 World Cup victory.
The 2010 AFCON final and the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
From glory to glory.
The next chapters of success were the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In Angola 2010 , Ghana reached the final but lost to Egypt and in later that year in South Africa the Black Stars became the only third African side to reach the quarter-final stage of the global soccer event – after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.
It should be added that the FIFA Goal Project of the Ghanaman Soccer Center of Excellence in Prampram was a great thing to be done under the Nyantakyi era.
A second AFCON final under Nyantakyi
The Black Stars reached a second final at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations but once again the team lost the trophy this time around to Yaya Toure’s Ivory Coast.
The final match ended 0-0 and Ivorians went on to win the penalty shoot-out for their second continental trophy after their maiden triumph in 1992 , also won at the expense of Ghana.
The Black Stars became a cash cow under Nyantakyi
The Black Stars became a cash cow and the most attractive sports brand of Ghana. For instance Goldfields Ghana spent $15m on the Black Stars during the six years they sponsored the national team.
“We spent over $15 million on the Black Stars in a period of six years as headline sponsors of the team. Our sponsorship enabled the Black Stars to qualify to the 2006 World Cup in Germany and South Africa 2010.” revealed by Executive vice-President of Goldfields Ghana Limited, Alfred Baku.
There was also the $3m-a-year deal by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation sponsorship for the Black Stars that started in 2013 and stopped in 2017.
FIFA continued to support the GFA financially through their various support schemes for member associations and the three FIFA World Cup participations of Ghana in 2006 , 2010 and 2014 brought fortunes to the country.
On a personal level the former Wa All Stars president achieved great success going on to become a CAF Executive committee member, a CAF first vice-president, the WAFU Zone B president and a FIFA Council member. Very renowned in the world of soccer.
Women football particularly developed well under Nyantakyi.
But were these successes masking the hidden rot of the Kwesi Nyantakyi’s GFA administration ? Why did the Ghanaian public start to lose hope in the Nyantakyi -led GFA?
The beginning of the fall of Nyantakyi
But the prosperous beginning of the GFA under the watch of Kwesi Nyantakyi began to change into adversity and troubles when the association started to take things for granted, when grassroots football development was not treated as a top priority and when the GFA started conducting businesses that lacked transparency leading to corruption perception among many Ghanaians.
There is proportional consideration of the successes and failures of the GFA that we must know at all times that every organization experience both good and bad times. That is accepted.
But the biggest problem Nyantakyi faced was that the failures of his association started to tower over the positives and the general public started to withdraw their support even though he had that of majority of the members of the GFA.
The shameful happenings at Brazil 2014 World Cup where over 3 million USD were airlifted from Ghana to pay the appearance fees of the Black Stars players ahead of the last group game against Portugal , the bizarre co-efficient explanation of Kwesi Nyantakyi at the Commission of Inquiry infuriated majority of the Ghanaian people who started to call for the exit of Kwesi Nyantakyi.
The level of this public anger was largely measured by social media comments and contributors of TV and radio talk show programs. This is the same scenario that led to the falls of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and CAF boss Issah Hayatou. One thing was common – the lack of public support. In fact in his resignation announcement as head of FIFA in June 2015, Blatter cited that he had the support of FIFA members but not that of the global public.
Transparency International report
In 2015 , a Transparency International report placed the GFA among the least transparent football associations in the world. This report gave license and louder voice to those who saw the GFA of Kwesi Nyantakyi as a corrupt institution.
The power deceived Mr. Nyantakyi. He started to feel untouchable and yearn for more power to control everything. For instance he once managed to get the Executive Committee confirm him as the management committee chairman of the Black Stars when he was still the GFA president and at the same time the controller of the GFA congress.
Nyantakyi appeared to tolerate corruption when he famously called for Ghanaian referees to accept bribes when they are offered but charged them to be fair on the field of play after taking the bribes. How could the GFA president ask a manipulated referee to be fair ?
Again , the former GFA president was on record to have categorically revealed that CAF Executive committee candidates could pay as much as $2000 and $5000 dollars per voter in order to get elected onto the Executive committee of the continental soccer governing body. He was still a CAF Executive committee member when he made those allegations.
Did that mean that he paid bribes to voters when he contested for the CAF seat that he won?
The Anas Expose
It is obvious that the corruption perception of the GFA was the main reason why the current president of the association – Kurt Okraku – created the “Bring Back the Love” Campaign when he won the GFA presidential elections in October 2019.
It was blatantly clear that the local league degraded in quality and organization – but Nyantakyi and majority of his members had always disagreed that it was one of the best and most competitive leagues in Africa.
Instead of showing genuine and rigorous efforts to combat football corruption the Nyantakyi-led GFA rather dared their critics to bring forth evidence and lo and behold the investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas was the one to expose the hidden rot of Ghana football.
It had to be the undercover journalist Anas because corrupt practices take place clandestinely in order to avoid traces and it takes world-class investigation teams to unravel those hidden crimes.
FIFA Ethics committee relied on the Anas expose as evidence to ban the former president of the Ghana Football Association for life for breaching the FIFA Code of Ethics ; a decision reduced to 15 years of ban by CAS.
Ghana is placed in Group H of the 2022 FIFA World Cup alongside Portugal , Uruguay and South Korea and it is a perfect time to look back at the rise and fall of Kwesi Nyantakyi ; the former GFA president under whom the Black Stars of Ghana qualified to play at their first ever FIFA World Cup finals.
For us in Ghana , whenever the FIFA World Cup is mentioned , the legend of Kwesi Nyantakyi will always be remembered.
Indeed the story of Kwesi Nyantakyi is a didactic one for all men in power. That money and power can make us super humans but they can also lead to irreparable destruction.
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