ACCRA, (Reuters) – Hundreds of Ghanaians on Wednesday trooped to Accra to watch alleged acts of bribery involving soccer officials, including the head of the country’s football association, captured on video demanding kickbacks.
Kwesi Nyantakyi, who is also a member of the FIFA Council, was seen in a hotel room taking a $65,000 bribe from a supposed businessman seeking to sponsor the Ghanaian football league for up to $15 million over three years.
The two-hour documentary, “When Greed and Corruption Become the Norm”, is the work of undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Wednesday’s public viewing was the first since it was released to the authorities last month.
Repeated attempts by Reuters to contact Nyantakyi for his response to the allegations have proved fruitless. The Ghana Football Association issued a statement last month backing their president and saying he was innocent until proven guilty.
The scenes in the documentary shown in the 6,000-capacity auditorium of the Accra International Conference Centre drew intermittent uproar from the crowd, which included business leaders, the clergy, civil society leaders, diplomats and sport administrators.
The heavily guarded auditorium was draped in national colours and before the screening, the crowd, presided over by a Catholic priest, sang the national anthem.
Football is by far the most popular sport in Ghana and while the national team, the Black Stars, failed to reach this year’s World Cup finals, they were quarter-finalists in South Africa in 2010.
The video also showed Nyantakyi offering to facilitate the award of key government contracts to the businessman on conditions that he paid kickbacks totalling $12 million through him to top officials including President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Specifically, Nyantakyi requested $5 million for Akufo-Addo, $3 million for Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, $2 million for the roads minister, $1 million for a deputy roads minister and another $1 million for him and one of his aides.
Akufo-Addo, who watched the video last month, denied any knowledge of Nyantakyi’s claims and has instigated a criminal investigation against the administrator for fraudulently using the President’s name.
In different segments, other soccer officials such as referees were shown accepting bribes ranging from goats to cash sums of 300 to 4,000 cedis ($64-$858) to make favourable decisions.
“I am yet to recover from the shock – It’s a sad day for Ghana football and I believe there’s an urgent need to clean up our football administration,” 42-year old soccer enthusiast Michael Blagogee told Reuters as he exited the auditorium holding his head.