Who betrayed the football game in Ghana and beyond, Anas Aremeyew or those who took his money?

I keep meaning to start a mini-public journal about the many documentaries I have seen. After work, my favorite pastime is lying on my couch and binging documentaries. That was how I found the world’s most dangerous roads and the most dangerous ways to school — premium content.

Some days I also start my day by watching documentaries. They set me in a reflective mood for the day because they make me think about how the actual production was done and remind me that quality documentaries, like good things, take time. Monday was one of those days, and I discovered a BBC documentary on football in Ghana. This episode reminds me of two things I’ve been meaning to write about;

  1. The idea of shifting goalposts
  2. The role of institutions

Ideally, two should come before 1. But two walks, so that one can run. Stay with me.

I lived all my life in Nigeria, and one thing I’ve noticed is that we don’t have many effective systems or institutions. On paper (and with much luck), they exist. But in real life, they are like momo spirit, a Nigerian folktale spirit; you have never seen her, but they said she exists, so everyone believes she does. In the West, I think systems exist, but (many, some, it depends on where) have either become obsolete or people with higher social status have learned to take advantage of them. However, not without the potential for some public backlash.

Let me explain. Let’s assume someone is robbing your street; what’s your go-to plan? When I lived in PH and Enugu, your best chance was to call the neighbors. The idea behind raising this alarm was for your neighbors to either take cover or come to your rescue by some slim stroke of luck. Different people in Nigeria will react to this scenario differently. Each person solves similar problems uniquely according to their resources (social status included). Many Nigerians in recent times have found more help on Twitter than in real life. In some Western countries, the first action point will probably loop in the numbers 9–1–1 ASAP. Why? Systems.

Before we continue, I would love to state that this is not one of the pieces that look down on African systems and glorify Western ones. On the contrary, I believe that both societies have room for improvement but in different directions. While one needs to modify its institutions, in one, systems barely exist.

When systems exist, rules are laid down. If A happens, it triggers B to occur. Without systems, people are forced to find solutions independently, like in the robbery case I discussed. It also leaves room for the goal post to keep moving. For instance, what happens when a sitting minister is caught having ties with corrupt practices? Or when a referee is bribed to favor one side of a match? In Africa, many times, the answer is nothing.

I guess it’s only wise to ask why systems do not exist in Africa. Is it because no one has ever come up to say, ‘ah, I think things should go so and so way.’ Or because there was no willpower to implement plans? Was it because the enemy always comes to plant weed while the farmer sleeps like in the biblical field? Is it good old greed — an inability to be content, regardless of how much wealth and social power people amass?

I think it’s a combination of many factors, especially greed. Last month, the Nigerian Super Eagles played against Ghana’s Black Stars. Supporting the Super Eagles in the past few years has honestly felt like being an Arsenal fan. But I digress. The fact is that fans worldwide set reminders and were excited to watch these matches. So imagine the disappointment IF you find out that a game against your favorite team was rigged hours before the referee blew the kick-off whistle? A complete waste of emotions (and coins for bet players).

Anas’ documentary paints a vivid story of what I mean by greed, lack of systems, and shifting goalposts. Let me explain;

A smiling robot holds a sign with Socrates’ quote that reads ‘He who is not content with what he has will not be content with what he would like to have.’
Credit: Grad school buddy.

Greed: In this documentary, we see officials doing fantastic with their careers. Things are going good; there’s absolutely nothing in their way from greatness, but out of over 150 people met uniquely with a cash offer to favor a side of the game accepted. Anas says only 3 rejected the money given to them. Why? Greed? Power? Beats me. Systems and institutions are essential to address situations like this. What are the measures to investigate matters like this and potentially stop a repeat?

Shifting goalposts: If we’re being honest, we see this every day. I don’t want to give out all the info on the documentary, assuming someone reading this wants to watch it (I’m not too fond of spoilers). Therefore, my example is that all the times on the TL, you have unlooked because your fave was involved. I believe that if something is wrong, it is wrong. It doesn’t matter how we try to dress it up or how pretty we try to make it look.

One thing is clear, nowhere is safe from corruption, and only formidable and objective institutions can withstand the urge to shift goalposts for personal interests.

Watch Betraying the Game: Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigates football in Africa — BBC Africa Eye documentary (available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eoFI-u3m88&ab_channel=BBCNewsAfrica)



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ebelechukwu monye

ebelechukwu monye

Oliver De Coque’s Identity is a song about me | Visual storyteller and talker @mygradschoolbud | I write for younger Ebele and everyone like her.