Vice-Chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee, Wilfred Kweku Osei “Palmer”, has suggested that Ghana would have qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup if money was made available to pay unclassified and indemnity payments to referees.
A Commission of Inquiry set up in 2014 after the shambolic showing in the World Cup that year revealed the country spent approximately $700,000 on unclassified payments and subsequently recommended such payments be scrapped.
While the government whitepaper issued on the findings rejected the recommendation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has since ceased allocating money for such purpose.
Speaking on Citi FM’s Sports Panorama show on Friday night, Wilfried Kweku Osei, a Ghana Football Association Executive Committee member, believes the unavailability of budgetary allocation to cater for referees is the reason the country missed out on a 4th successive World Cup appearance.
“I was quite surprised that Ghanaians and the media sided with former Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye [about not budgeting for indemnities] when the government whitepaper on the Dzamefe Commission report clearly indicated that unclassified payments were legal in the concept of our budget.
“If we had spent around $300,000 dollars [on referees], and stood to benefit about $8 million [by appearing at the World Cup], I see nothing wrong with it,” he said.
When pressed on why such an amount of money should be spent on referees, Kwaku Osei clarified that the essence of the payment to the referees is to ensure fairness.
“When we say unclassified payments, it’s not necessarily giving money directly to the referee. It can be in kind, it can be in cash. The essence of it is not for the referee to be biased towards your opponent.
“But if that was a necessary concomitant to create convenient atmosphere for the referee to be fair-minded in the course of the game, then I see nothing wrong with it,” he added.
Kwaku Osei, owner of Ghana Premier League side Tema Youth which is currently fighting a battle to escape relegation from Ghana’s top division, went on to suggest Egypt and Uganda could have influenced referees’ decisions to disallow goals scored by Ghana in games against Congo and Uganda.
“Are you telling me the first goal Ghana scored against Congo in Kumasi was a bad goal? But the referee disallowed it. Do you know what motivated him to do that? “It clearly points to the fact that he was being influenced by an invisible force. That could be Egypt; that could be Uganda or any of the countries we were competing against,” he said.
“When we went to Uganda, you saw clearly that the push on Frank Acheampong was a penalty. The first goal Amartey scored was a clean goal, the last goal Dwamena scored that was disallowed was a clean goal. So we’re not asking for anything beyond the referee being fair,” he concluded.
The Black Stars failed to qualify for Russia 2018 after winning just one game in their four qualifying matches. They host Egypt, who qualified from Ghana’s group, on November 12, 2017 in Kumasi.