…Assistant Referee Details His Sale Of Red And Yellow Card As He Takes Bribe In Favour Of Hearts
Anas Aremeyaw Anas Reports, Accra, Ghana
Red-handed recording reports referee recklessly revealing how racket rapport is ruining revered refereeing rules. Red cards received are remitted referees’ regularly rehearsed results, not real reflections.
“They always think that the referee who has the whistle in his mouth is the only one that can make decisions. No, it is not like that. Assuming you want us to give a red card at certain points of the game, we can do it with ease. Just tell me that we want this player to get a card, yellow or red…We know the game so when you say ‘oh Jack, we want this, we want that’, then we can do it for you.”
If you thought the red and yellow cards, some of football’s punitive measures were always shown to those who play rough, then these words by assistant referee Safo Adade should make you think again.
Safo Adade told an undercover investigator of Tiger Eye that if he paid the right price, he could assist in conjuring the punitive cards for specific players in a game between Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals and Wa All Stars.
Over the course of a two-year investigation, the Tiger Eye team has been undercover looking into the cancerous problem of corruption in Ghanaian football and how it robs the beautiful game of its appeal to the masses. It was during this that the team across Safo Adade’s prowess.
Tiger first met Referee Adade at a guest house (frequented by match officials for Liberty’s home games) around Dansoman Exhibition along with fellow assistant referee Ben Vormaxor. When asked where the leader of the delegation was, referee Adade said “we are elders and we think in unison. So put your agenda on the table and as you already know [we will take it from there]… I am the leader of the delegation.”
The plan is that Tiger will pay a bribe to the referees to favour the ‘Scientific Soccer Lads’ (Liberty’s nickname) in the game. Referee Adade, sitting on a bed, is seen on camera licking his lips as he stretches to take his 500 cedi bribe. Vormaxor, who had been fixated on his phone throughout much of the conversation, also stretches for his cut.
We Take Bribe in Teams – Referee Adade
Adade then enquires about the bribe for centre referee Amofa Sarkodie, who is not in the room. Sarkodie at the time was at the Carl Reindorf Park for ‘pre-match’ a formality where the referee among other things inspects the colours the teams have chosen to wear to ensure they adhere to the rules. He asks for Sarkodie’s share to be kept with him (Adade) and that it will be given to Sarkodie later. Noticing the resignation of Tiger to this suggestion, Vormaxor interjects: “why, are you afraid?”
There is a brief bout of laughter but eventually, he agrees to help arrange a meeting between Tiger and Sarkodie himself. Not satisfied, he asks about, the fourth referee, Emmanuel Ansah’s share of the bribe.
Still not in favour of handing money to those not in the room, Adade says “give it to us because we move as a team…there are some places you would go and it (bribe) is given to you in bulk and then we share it later among ourselves…we don’t trample (sic) on anybody’s money. Other people do that but we don’t. What is due me is [what I take].”
The charm offensive works and Tiger hands him Ansah’s share. Just as Tiger makes his way out of the room, Ansah appears.
“We have taken your ‘lorry fare’ for you”, Adade says renaming the bribe.
“Okay”- Ansah is heard saying.
Later in the day, a fervid Adade arranges a meeting between Tiger and centre referee Amofa Sarkodie outside the Carl Reindorf Park, the venue of the match. But Sarkodie, wearing a smock, was not interested in talking to Tiger. Instead, he referred us to Adade, delegating Adade to handle everything on his behalf, cementing Adade’s earlier claim as the ‘leader of the delegation.’
We move away from Sarkodie to the side of the road where Adade touted his 12-year experience as a referee and how that has made him a master in the game of bribery. It is at this point that he makes the infamous comment about how they conspire to conjure red cards to eliminate specific players from a game.
“I have 12 years experience as a referee in the premier league. So I know the game and the format in which it is in, you understand?”
Adade is seen receiving a bribe of 700 cedis on behalf of referee Sarkodie, an amount slightly higher than the 500 cedis dished out earlier. The Tiger Eye team filmed Safo Adade back pocketing the money.
As they exchange numbers and prepare to depart, Safo Adade proffers to entrench the juicy relationship further by offering to help us do what we have done with him and his colleague in this match to other matches.
“So you any match just call me. Every match has a profile, you understand, so just tell me this team and that team are playing [and I will help you].”
Before the deal is cemented with a handshake and the traditional snap of fingers, Adade adds, “People [in the stadium and at home] will see it live but with ways and means, we will kill (sic) them.” -An inferred reference to killing Wa All Stars’ hard work.
Despite taking our bribe to ensure that Liberty wins the match, the game ended in a goalless draw.
The Magic of Match-fixing in Ghana
Match-fixing is the act of dishonestly pre-determining the outcome of a match especially the final scores. This is however distinct from spot-fixing, which is the act of dishonestly pre-determining the outcome of specific portions of a match. Spot-fixing usually involves betting on very trivial aspects of a game such as which team would get the first throw-in or even which player would get a red card in the match or at what specific time in the game these would happen.
FIFA, football’s world governing body, uses the much broader term ‘match-manipulation’ to encapsulate these practices. According to FIFA, match-manipulation “poses a major threat to sport across the globe, and fighting it is one of FIFA’s most important responsibilities.”
According to the global police cooperation agency, Interpol, “match-fixing and illegal soccer gambling are closely related. Organized crime syndicates engage in these activities in order to generate and launder criminal proceeds.” Between 2007 and 2014, Interpol coordinated “8,400 arrests, the seizure of almost USD 40 million in cash, and the closure of some 3,400 illegal gambling dens which handled bets worth almost USD 5.7 billion” in an operation codenamed ‘SoGa’ (Soccer Gambling).
The Ghana Football Association has consistently rebuffed accusations of match-manipulation within Ghanaian football on many occasions so it remains to be seen how it would respond to the ‘magic’ being done by its referees in this particular investigation.
Stay tuned, more to come