Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deaf Soccer Scandal, Aussies Also Cheated

Source Link - Deaf Soccer Scandal, Aussies Also Cheated

The Deaf Football Australia also cheated in the special football match against their Ghanaian counterparts. Only three of their players were hearing impaired, a Source in Australia told the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.

The Source, who preferred to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, said those Ghanaians, who played in the special match were the officials, who were to accompany the Team.

The Source said the officials went through Dubai while the Team was to travel through South Africa. The Source said because it took sometime for the tickets of the Team to be ready, when it got to South Africa its visa had expired so it was not allowed to board a plane to Australia.

It said since the officials had already arrived in Australia they quickly arranged to represent the Team in the match rather than call it off.

"We explained the circumstances to the Aussies and they agreed that playing the match was better than calling it off, so we are surprised they have turned round to complain," the Source said.

Asked to comment on the decision by the Ghanaian Police to track the officials down and bring them back to Ghana, the Source said that would not be in the overall interest of Ghana.

The Source said the officials used their own dollars to buy their tickets and not the money of the State. It would, therefore, not be wise for the State to do anything that would make them to lose their money.

"When Francis Drake, who was a pirate, captured the Spanish Armada and sent it to Britain, he was knighted and he became Sir Francis Drake. The British did not try him; did they?" The Source asked.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) with its member organizations has disassociated itself from the whole saga.

It said the blame should rather be put squarely on officials of the National Sports Council, who were actively involved in the process.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Thursday, Ms Rita Kyeremaa Kusi, Executive Director of the GFD, said "over the past years, disabled sportsmen and sportswomen have faced exploitation through visa racketeering and human trafficking activities by people purporting to work for the National Sports Council".

She said GFD had in the past kicked against such acts on the quiet because it considered them as criminal but it was now opportune to draw attention to the exploitation of the rights of the disabled.

The GFD comprise Ghana Association of the Blind; Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled; Share Care Ghana; Parents' Association of Children with Intellectual Disability; Society of Albinos, Ghana and the Ghana National Association of the Deaf.

GNA Sports had reported that the Deaf Football Australia had threatened dragging the Association of Sports for the Disabled of Ghana (ASBOG) to the International Sports Confederation for the Disabled for sanctions over allegations of sending hearing players to Australia for an international friendly soccer match that was meant for the hearing impaired.

The Deaf Football Australia were demanding the payment of 14,789.00 dollars as refund covering the cost of Ghana's contingent to Australia with Brian Seymour, the Secretary General, saying that the invoice was for expenses for 39 persons, who made the trip.

Ms Kusi confirmed that the 12 hearing impaired (deaf) persons, who were to participate in the event failed to make the trip and are all currently in the country, saying their that their passports were yet to be released to them.

She expressed regret that previous Governments and corporate bodies over the years had not adequately supported sports for persons with disability, saying that hey had indeed been attempts by past Governments to exclude such athletes from participating in international events such as the Paralympic and Commonwealth Games for people with disabilities.

The Executive Director said the GFD would not shield any of its member organizations that acted contrary to the law and expressed their gratitude to the Government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports for their efforts to bring the alleged culprits to book.

The Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Frank Adu-Poku, said last month an international sports festival was organised in Australia for the hearing impaired.

He said although some hearing-impaired people were processed for the trip they were substituted with people who could hear.

DCOP said Mr James Armah, a Sports Development Officer of the Ghana Sports Council, has been arrested to assist with investigations.

He said the Police was collaborating with other international security agencies such as the International Police Organisation (Interpol) to arrest the "team members'' who have absconded.

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