Written By Godsway Glah - In July this year, I discussed in this column the forthcoming quadrennial congress of the Referees Association of Ghana (RAG).
The congress is scheduled for Cape Coast at the end of this month.
I have served various positions at district, regional and national levels since I joined the RAG as an active referee in 1975.
I ended up as a general secretary of the association. This opportunity has endowed me with intimate knowledge of the happenings in the affairs of RAG.
I am privy to the good, the bad and the ugly of the association.
Additionally, I have been privileged to serve on some important GFA committees whose functions have bearings on the administration of referee affairs.
My bad side has been, that I am religiously independent-minded. That has been my value and character, although these traits don’t please some boot-lickers and ‘yes sir, yes sir’ people. That obvious result was that I had no crash out when I had one more of the normal two-term general secretary position.
I am recalling these issues, not because I want to indulge in self- glorification but because I want to establish the fact that I have been blessed with a lot of knowledge and information about the affairs of the Referees Association and its membership. One day, these will be read in my obituary tribute.
With this rich background in the affairs of the RAG, my concern has always been that a few people and indeed one man has cunningly been successful in controlling and governing the affairs of the RAG, and this has not inured to the benefit of the progress and success of the association.
The greatest problem area is the financial administration of the association, because an individual controls and directs the affairs of the association, and only thirty (30) individuals or indeed a simple majority of the 30 delegates are the ones to vote and maintain the ‘status quo’ we have not been able to effect any positive change in the way the Association is run and administered.
The irony of the situation is that the 30 delegates almost always comprise the regional executive members who have proved always to be cooperators in the bad administration of the RAG.
As I pointed out in my last discussions, the membership of the association is made up of between 800 and 1,000 paid-up members. But out of this huge number, only a paltry 30 made up of three delegates (only each region) make crucial decisions including the election of our national officers.
The sad aspect of the issue is that majority of referees, especially the active ones, are only interested in getting matches to handle.
They contribute financially through their 20 percent tax on their match allowances and annual registrations and dues to the coffers of the association but care less about how their monies are utilised.
There are constitutional provisions for the funds of the association to be audited. However, these constitutional provisions only remain a paper.
In practice, the auditors mostly comprise those referees who are anxious about getting elevated from one grade to the other or are those already on some grades and at certain positions that they want to cling to and maintain. They end up going through the accounts books with one eye and a half-hearted approach.
During our days as National Executive Committee members, we were made privy to the national accounts only when they were being read as part of the congress agenda. And the timings were such that they were read, discussed and approved at the end of a day that everybody was tired, hungry and anxious to retire from the conference room.
I always wondered why these accounts could not be audited early and circulated among the regions and districts for discussions and knowledge. I know it was the pursuit of these alternatives and suggestions that ended my executive membership at the national level.
This was followed by the granting of an unsolicited life member to me and perhaps to others.
The surprising grant of the status of life member is that although I am exempted from paying annual dues and registration fees, my region must pay on my behalf to the national treasury. Funny and ridiculous! I am a SSNIT pensioner.
Nobody pays any money on my behalf, but I get my pension pay before the 20th of every month. Meanwhile, with the RAG, my so many years of benevolent contributions are being kept at the national level waiting for my exit from mother earth.
And if I should die in my village quietly and nobody takes some forms to apply that would be the end. Fact is, there have been many retired, old referees dying and no referee attends their funeral, because at the time of their demise they were not financially sound.
This can be described as theft and fraudulent.
As we prepare for another congress, all referees and it should be all referees should take interest in the affairs of the association. All referees should hold their regional meetings and come forth with suggestions to be carried by their regional delegates to the congress.
Such suggestions may include my view that all paid up members of the Referees Association should be allowed to vote for and elect their national leaders.
And this should whittle down to the regions so that every paid-up member of the region would elect and vote for their regional executive leaders. Their electoral commission officers in every region of the country. They can be employed to supervise our elections.
This is practical by the Ghana Journalists Association. We are many, we should not leave our fate in the hands of 30 delegates who may be pursuing their own parochial agenda.
There are many problems affecting referees both active and retired. There are many accusations, some unwarranted, thrown against referees by some stakeholders in our football industry. Many of these accusers cannot be said to be cleaner than majority of our referees. It's coconspirators.
The Referees Association belongs to all referees both active and retired. A lot of referee funds are going to be used for the congress. It must be money well spent.
This year’s congress should not be reduced to just election of national officers. Affairs of referees should be thoroughly discussed for the progress and benefit of members of the association.