Ghana lifts ban to escape FIFA sanctions

ACCRA - Ghana sought to avoid FIFA action on Monday, saying it would immediately lift a temporary halt of league football imposed last week after police raided the football association in a tax and fraud probe.

World governing body FIFA, which takes a dim view of outside interference in football affairs, warned after last week's seizure of computers and files of a possible suspension for the World Cup quarter-finalists.

"FIFA's intervention has made some mark and we are going to lift the ban... it is in the national interest," said Emmanuel Addotey, head of the GHALCA league clubs association, adding the move would be agreed at a meeting later on Monday.

Separately, the Ghana Football Association said it was also resuming its activities on Monday after the seizure of equipment brought its administrative activities to a standstill.

"We're reopening our offices today with the hope to move forward," Ghana FA spokesman Randy Abbey told Reuters by telephone, noting that some office equipment including computers taken away by Ghana's anti-graft agency had yet to be returned.

Plain-clothed officers from the country's Economic and Organised Crime Unit (EOCU) raided the GFA headquarters last Tuesday and removed nine computers and took the mobile phones of some staff in an inquiry into suspected tax breaches and fraud.

In a letter to FIFA seen by Reuters, the government last week denied meddling.

"Their (crime office) investigations cannot be attributed to government and cannot be inferred to be government interference," sports minister Akua Sena Dansua wrote.

"Ongoing matters have nothing to do with central government and are purely matters being handled by a legally-established authority," she added in the letter.

Separately, the EOCO issued a statement confirming it was investigating suspected tax breaches and fraud, and noted that it had tried earlier this week to return the seized material to the GFA on Wednesday but found that its offices were shut.

It said the raid was connected to an investigation into the financial affairs of the GFA "which the Office has cause to believe have led to breaches of the laws of Ghana on tax, fraud and others".

Ghana reached this year's World Cup quarter-finals, losing a penalty shootout to Uruguay.


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