UPDATE ON STIMULUS PACKAGE, POSSIBLE RETURN OF FOOTBALL AND FIFA EMERGENCY COVID-19 FUND AND OTHERS
It would be recalled that, in March this year, I authored a message of Solidarity to us, Club Owners and also Chief Executive Officers following the decision of Government to suspend all sporting activities and public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Association followed up with a Zoom Meeting to discuss key issues with stakeholders including the Regional Football Association (RFAs), Premier League clubs, Division One League clubs and Women’s Premier League clubs.
As President of the Association and a club man, I know the extent of the challenges that clubs are going through and the financial burden we continue to face as club owners, officials, players and as participants in the game. Hence, the various engagements being pursued by the Association to bring some relief to our members.
The Association through the official website and in various interviews has been providing updates on the various activities, initiatives and engagements being undertaken by the administration.
However, it is both a duty and a privilege to address and update members directly on the status of the various initiatives and engagements on key issues with stakeholders such as the Government, FIFA, Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and the COVID-19 Advisory Team.
- Update on GFA Proposal to MOYS for Stimulus Support
As I indicated during our Zoom Meeting in May, the leadership of the Association has continuously held positive engagements with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and other high ranking Government officials on matters related to a Stimulus Package for our clubs to alleviate some of the hardships on owners and our players.
Our proposal for support was sent to the Ministry for Youth and Sports on April 7, 2020 and we have since had various engagements and meetings on the subject.
In this proposal, we sought support for members (clubs, RFAs and GHALCA) for the payment of salaries of players and employees during the COVID-19 outbreak period. We advanced arguments on the economic losses suffered by clubs, rent payments among others, and asked for temporal suspension of payments of PAYE, CIT, SSNIT, any tax obligations and for interest-free loans to clubs.
As confirmed by the Sector Minister, Isaac Asiamah (Hon.) on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 when he took his turn at the COVID-19 Update ‘Meet The Press’ series in Accra, discussions are still ongoing on this proposal from the Association as part of the “Ministry specific” support from government.
It is therefore very clear that a lot of thinking, discussion, planning and engagements have gone on between the GFA and the Youth and Sports Ministry. We will continue with the engagements with the hope that government will come to the aid of the football industry.
- FIFA Emergency COVID-19 Fund
In relation to the FIFA Emergency COVID-19 Fund, I want to update all members that the Association has provided all the information (financial and non-financial) which were required of the GFA to the FIFA Team.
This fund when ready will help alleviate the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the measure, the FIFA Committee on COVID-19 will be meeting this month to decide on the package for Member Associations.
I want to assure stakeholders that we are in constant dialogue with FIFA to make sure that we have a share of this FIFA Emergency COVID-19 Fund.
As President of the Association, I have engaged in meetings with other Federation Heads across the World to discuss this issue and to look at best ways to navigate this unfortunate curve. The fallouts of these meetings have been positive with FIFA giving us assurances that the next stage of this financial relief plan will be finalized soon.
The Association is therefore waiting for the FIFA Committee in charge of managing this fund to have their meeting and decide the quantum of money due to the GFA and when it would be released to Member Associations.
- Update on Engagement with Youth Employment Agency
In February 2020, the Association commenced an engagement with the leadership at the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) aimed at supporting clubs on various levels.
These engagements have been further enhanced by the Sports Ministry’s active support. The result is that, Government in the coming days will announce a support to the Association through YEA for our members.
- Possible Return of Football
Within the last few weeks, the GFA Medical Committee, the General Secretary and the Competitions Department among others have put together sound proposals which has been presented to Government through the Covid-19 Advisory Team and the sector Ministry for consideration.
I have personally met with the Government Advisory Team on COVID-19 led by the Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare to discuss the possible return of Football and what we would require to actualize it, resulting in a discussion on a roadmap for the safe return of football. The Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and the Government of Ghana have been very open and supportive in these deliberations.
We will continue to engage the COVID-19 Advisory Team so that together we would bring football back in the safest possible way.
- Decision on the Season
As you are aware in our previous engagements, the Executive Council gave on or before June 30, 2020 as the deadline to take a decision on the league after considering all factors.
We continue to engage all key stakeholders including WAFU, CAF and FIFA at both the Committees, General Secretaries and the President’s levels to ensure that our Association is at the forefront of all the discussions on the season and possible resumptions dates for football (no firm dates given yet by any of the bodies).
We are firm in our conviction that by June 30, 2020 we would have gathered enough information to aid us in our decision making.
We took a decision to organise an Extraordinary Congress to deliberate on a number of football issues, but COVID-19 happened, and public gathering was banned.
Currently, the approved protocols allow a gathering of 100 people. However, the membership of the GFA Congress, the Secretariat staff and the media who attend congress will be far beyond the limit. As a result, we are unable to organize Congress as we are used to.
It is, however, refreshing to note that recently, the Registrar General’s Department has indicated a possibility of holding Annual General Meetings of Companies online after meeting certain criteria, and obtaining approval from the Registrar General’s Department.
We are currently exploring the idea of holding a Congress online after receiving the necessary approval from the Registrar of companies. When this becomes possible, the Secretariat would communicate to all members appropriately.
- Corporate Confidence
Recently, I have embarked on “corporate visits” to restore corporate confidence in the football industry. My engagement with Corporate Ghana so far has been extremely positive and very encouraging.
I will continue to take our message to more companies. Our message that today presents us a new era, a new hope, and a new opportunity to change the course of history at the GFA and walk a new path. Ghana football is, indeed, on a new path to bring back the love that Ghanaians cherish so much.
Finally, I want to thank all Club Owners, Administrators, Footballers, Coaches Referees, the media, the fans and all stakeholders involved in our sport for your patience in this difficult time.
Together we will win this battle. Long live Ghana Football
Kurt E.S Okraku