Liberian Referee Yekeh Linked to Anas’ Bribery Report
Monrovia – Recently controversial Ghanaian Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas released a shocking video of how match officials on the African continent receive bribe to influence the results of matches locally and internationally.
Report by Christopher C. Walker, [email protected]
The video eye-documented by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has since gone wide across the world.
It featured over 110 referees and other top class football officials in Africa, prime among them is the President of the Ghanaian Football Association (GFA), Kwesi Nyantakyi.
One of the video footages show experienced Liberian referee Jerry Yekeh among some referees receiving bribe ahead of the match between Ghana vs Mali in the 2017 WAFU Nation Cup held in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Although Yekeh is not shown receiving money like his colleagues did in the referee room, the Liberian is clearly seen in the video bringing some match materials in the room where the action was taking place and later went behind the scene.
According to Anas’ undercover reporters, all the referees that officiated Ghana’s games at the September 2017 West African Football Union (WAFU) Tournament held in Cape Coast were bribed.
The investigators made specific reference to the September 16, 2017 Group A match between hosts Ghana and Mali which was officiated Yekeh.
As shown, the referees were ushered in the room where Anas’ undercover reporters were given out the cash by Charles Donwouna, a senior Ghanaian Technical Instructor, who was also in charge of referees at the 2017 WAFU Nations Cup.
Each of the officials in the room received US$ 500.00 from the under covered reporters who told them that they were for Team Ghana.
But four times Liberia Football Association (LFA) Best Referee Award winner, Jerry Yekeh has since denied any involvement in the transaction although he was on the scene of the action and was the senior match official in the game which Ghana won 1-0 against Mali.
Yekeh, however, admitted entering the room, but said it was the game sheet that he brought and laid on the table as seen in the video. He also denied seeing his colleagues receiving money contrary to the clear video evidence.
There have been calls in some quarter of the football circle in Liberia for Jerry Yekeh to abstain from all refereeing activities until an investigation is done, but the Liberia Football Referee Association (LIFRA) has refused to bow to the call.
LIFRA President Cllr. Joseph M. Kollie told reporters that as long as Jerry Yekeh’s name was not mentioned in the scandal any action taken against him by LIFRA will be totally against him.
“I don’t want to comment on this issue. Anas named all those that accepted his money, did he call Jerry’s name? Did you see Yekeh taking money in the video? We don’t want to rely on speculations. We don’t want to tarnish the reputation of our referee,” Cllr. Kollie said.
This is not the first time that allegation of bribery has been levied against Yekeh.
In February 2017, it was reported that he received US$10,000.00 to influence the result of the 2017 CAF Champions League game between Wa All Stars of Ghana and Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya at the Tamale Stadium.
Yekeh was supported in that match by Elisha Johnson and Johnson Gbartea as Assistants referee one and two while George Rogers was the fourth official.
Al Ahli Tripoli comfortably won the game 3-0 although Yekeh was accused of some controversial calls against the Ghanaian side.
However, all of the three referees have refused to be drawn into the investigation apparently in support of their colleague.
The LIFRA president, however, said the involvement of some referees in the bribery has further tarnished Africa’s image and limited referees on the continent chances of making it to World Cup.
“This incident in my view has taken Africa backward on the global scene in term of officiating matches at major FIFA events. It is against FIFA and CAF ethics for referees to accept gifts, I mean from somebody you don’t know, this is really sad,” he added.
Kollie refused to agree that members of LIFRA take bribe during local league games in Liberia. Some football pundits told this newspaper that bribery is also alive in Liberian football and that it has affected some clubs.
“This has not been brought to our attention. As far as we are concerned none of our referees have been involved in any match fixing. No one has brought complain to us,” Cllr. Kollie justified.
According to him, the Anas’s investigation, as eye-documented by the British Broadcasting, (BBC) will serve as a lesson for all referees on the continent.
Two of the referees that were caught on camera in the investigation; Gambian referee Ebrima Jallow and Kenyan referee Aden Marwa has since resigned from their respective associations.
Jallow announced last week that he has stepped aside from all refereeing matters until investigation into the bribery allegation is fully completed.
Marwa, who was one of the linesmen to represent Africa at the ongoing FIFA world Cup in Russian, also withdrew from the world’s biggest football fiesta after he was caught receiving US$600 from Anas’s reporters.
After receiving the paltry sum in bribe, Marwa forfeited at least sh2.5 million Kenyan Shillings for appearing at the World Cup.
Kwesi Nyantakyi, the “bigfish” caught in the investigation was seen apparently accepting a gift of US$65,000 “shopping money” from an undercover reporter. He denies any wrongdoing.
He has since resigned from the post he held with Fifa as well as the GFA. He has also stepped aside from his roles with Caf including as 1st vice-president, the most senior figure at the confederation after its president, Ahmad.
Football’s world governing body, Fifa, suspended Nyantakyi for 90 days on 8 June but he has now left his role on the Fifa Council.
Caf has announced that it will hold a vote at an Extraordinary Congress on “30 September 2018 in Egypt to fill the CAF 1st Vice-President function and the vacancy on the FIFA Council.”
Ghana Football Referee Association is also investigating over 70 local referees named in the disgraceful scandal.