Our photojournalist, Gideon Boakye Botwe was prevented from working.

Media intimidation in the league

Jerome Otchere

Posted on: Wed Jun 21, 2017

Journalists have been beaten at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium without justification. Some have been prevented from doing their work for no reason at the Accra Sports Stadium. Others have also worked under serious intimidation at other venues. The best the Premier League Board (PLB) has done in recent times has been to issue public statements to condemn those acts.

I’m in no way saying that, the PLB’s condemnation of such senseless acts isn’t right. The truth is, it’s the right thing to do as the first, immediate measure but considering the shameful development at the Dormaa Park last week Monday, when Kotoko engaged Aduana Stars on match day 18 of the 2016/17 Premier League, it’s high time, the league management body and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) took a firmer stance of such disgraceful incidents.

The PLB/GFA must go another step by putting their feet down to ensure that, sanity prevails at venues and especially those that have become notorious for primitive behavior like Dormaa. Without any doubt, the Dormaa Park is one centre that has gained notoriety for intimidation.

Visiting teams and the media have constantly complained about that venue. The last time I raised this issue, an official of Aduana Stars didn’t side with me. His disagreement was vehement and premised on the fact that, he has been working to improve the situation. He made particularly reference to the relationship Aduana Stars was building with Kotoko under Opoku Nti’s regime. He suggested that, I was creating a wrong impression at a time good effort were being made. This, was in fact, a banter with Aduana Stars’ CEO, Albert Commey.

Almost a year on, we can all attest to the truth that, Dormaa is still a hostile venue. Clubs and journalists who have been there have complained bitterly of maltreatment. There has always been evidence to show that, you won’t always get fairness at that venue. They give opponents and the media raw deals and these raw deals have graduated to outright lawlessness.

The media establishment that has paid to broadcast league matches on television weren’t given access to the venue last Monday for no good reason. It was a sad day for our game. It’s easy to blame managers of Aduana Stars for their supporters’ behavior. It’s so easy to blame them. I will however not blame them. I have not evidence to argue for complicity. But, Aduana Stars must let the world know why their club shouldn’t be punished for their shameful conduct; which brought the good name of the Premier League into utter disrepute.

That, the television crew, sent to cover a Premier League match at Dormaa, had to seek refuge at the police station, isn’t something anybody who has the development of our domestic football at heart, should be proud of. What was the crime of the television crew?

And it wasn’t just the television crew from the state-owned media which suffered the humiliation of being thrown out of the Park or prevented from working. Other journalists, including our photojournalist, Gideon Boakye Botwe, after gaining access to the Park, was also prevented from taking his pictures by Aduana Stars’ supporters.

This wasn’t the first time Gideon Boakye Botwe was suffering such ill-fate at a league venue. It was the third time this season. The question is, isn’t that too much for a journalist, committed to doing his best to promote the interest of his club and the Ghana Premier League?

I hate to recount what Gideon experienced at Obuasi when Kotoko played Ashgold on match day four. I also don’t want to recall his ordeal with hooligans in Tarkwa on match day ten when Kotoko engaged Medeama on April 5, 2017 but it’s so clear that, maltreatment of journalists or media personnel at league venues is a problem the PLB/GFA ought to deal with drastically.

Journalists aren’t enemies of the game. The media can’t be treated anyhow. Media intimidation is casting a slur on the reputation of our league. The trend that’s emerging is dangerous. It has to be nipped in the bud before it’s too late. The image of the Premier League is being impaired by these despicable acts. The GFA/PLB must act now. 

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