The Court of Arbitration for Sport will on Tuesday 4th August 2020 release its ruling on the case between Tema Youth President Wilfred Osei Kwaku Palmer and the Ghana Football Association.
Palmer is at the Swiss court challenging his disqualification from contesting the GFA presidential elections in October 2019, which Kurt Okraku won.
Palmer wants the GFA elections annulled and his candidacy reinstated for fresh elections to be held.
Ahead of the ruling, here is what you need to know about the case:
Why was Palmer disqualified?
With the GFA in Normalisation following the Anas Aremeyaw Anas documentary in June 2018, the Normalisation Committee was tasked with organizing fresh elections to replace the ousted GFA administration of Kwesi Nyantakyi.
As the Elections Committee, the NC put together a sub-committee, the Vetting Committee, which was tasked with vetting all candidates interested in contesting the GFA Presidential Elections.
The Vetting Committee, chaired by Lawyer Frank Davis, vetted 7 candidates, approved 6 and disqualified one – Wilfred Osei Kwaku Palmer.
Two reasons were given for his disqualification –
- Failure of his club, Tema Youth, to pay a 10% fee to the GFA on the transfer of two players – Gabriel Laveh ($15,000) and Joseph Painstil (€300,000). According to the Vetting Committee, this action was in flagrant violation of the GFA Regulations [Article 33 (5) (C)] and a person seeking to govern an institution cannot be seen to be disregarding that very institutions’ rules and regulations.
- Comments made on Citi FM’s Sports Panorama where he suggested that the Black Stars of Ghana failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup because the country did not make a budget available for unclassified payments to match officials. The Committee held that Palmer had been found guilty by a judicial body of the GFA (Ethics Committee) for the comments and say the remarks prove Palmer lacks moral integrity to hold the position of GFA President.
Palmer’s lawyers argued that the two grounds for his disqualification were both flawed and further stated their misgivings about the potential for conflict of interest and bias from some members of the Vetting Committee.
- On the failure to pay the 10% fee on the transfer of two players, Palmer’s lawyers say the grounds for disqualification as published by the Vetting Committee, does not state anywhere that a candidate should be disqualified if a club for which he is a director or shareholder, owes a debt to the GFA. They also contend that the GFA was not due the transfer fee of Joseph Painstil because at the time of the transfer of the player, he was out of the jurisdiction of the GFA, as he was transferred from Hungary to Belgium. In such a scenario, the GFA is not entitled to any fee.
- Palmer’s lawyers further stated that Frank Davis, the lawyer the GFA instructed to write to Palmer to retrieve the said 10% transfer fee, was caught in conflict of interest because he was Chairman of the Vetting Committee. Seeing as he stood to benefit by way of legal fees if Tema Youth had paid the money, his impartiality was compromised and the potential for exhibited bias against Palmer was therefore established.
- On the second reason for disqualifying Palmer (comments regarding indemnity payments), Palmer’s lawyers say he was never charged nor was he ever convicted by the Ethics Committee and that the NC’s reliance on the Ethics Committee invitation of Palmer to merely explain his comments on 13th December, 2017, was without legal basis.
What is Palmer asking CAS to do?
Palmer is seeking 4 reliefs from the Court of Arbitration for Sport
- A declaration that Palmer’s disqualification is null, void and of no effect.
- A declaration that the reasons given for his disqualification are unjustifiable
- An order nullifying any election conducted by the Normalistion Committee (the GFA Elections of October 25, 2019)
- An order to conduct fresh elections with each candidate given a fair chance of contesting.