The League Management Company (LMC) of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) has withdrawn the playing licenses of newly-invited Super Eagles players, Isah Ali and Andy Okpe, following their indictment in a match-fixing scandal in the Ghanaian Premier League.
The two Remo Stars players were found culpable of consenting to fixing a match between Ghanaian Premier League clubs Inter Allies and Ashanti Gold in the Ghanaian top flight.
The decision of the LMC was announced on Friday as both players’ registration were cancelled and were disqualified from participating in the NPFL.
How it all started…
On the 17th of July 2021, on Matchday 34 of the 2020/21 season, local and international observers of the Ghanaian league suspected foul play in the game between Ashanti Gold and Inter Allies. The match, according to reports was fixed to end in a 5-1 scoreline but eventually ended in a 7-0 win for Ashanti Gold.
Some players and officials from both teams were found culpable of agreeing to engage in the match fixing.
A video extract of the game soon spread with a player of Inter Allies, Hashim Musah believed to have deliberately scored two own goals while several other players seemed uninterested in the game.
A Swiss fraud detection company, Sportsradar consulted for the Ghanaian FA and it revealed that there were serious signs of match fixing for betting purposes from both teams.
The FA investigated the allegations against both teams and referred the issue to the disciplinary committee.
Inter Allies, whom Ali and Okpe represented at the time were found to have breached Article 34(5)(a) of the Premier League Regulations (2019) for instigating, commanding, and counselling its players to play a fixed match or match of convenience between Ashantigold SC to achieve a result in favor of Ashantigold SC, an act which the club knew or ought to have known at the time of engaging in it to be contrary to the Premier League Regulations of the Ghana Football Association.
The second count against the club was the breach of Article 34(6)(d) of the GFA Premier League Regulations, (2019) that both teams did act together with a common purpose to manipulate the match to achieve a desired result, an act which brought the game of football into disrepute.
The players involved were charged on various counts with Okpe who is one of the top scorers in the NPFL this season and Ali, one of the best defenders in the league, found to have ignored the committee.
The Ghanaian FA has since demoted Inter Allies to the third division alongside Ashanti Gold while Ashanti Gold President, Kweku Frimpong and his son, Emmanuel Frimpong were banned for 10 and 8 years respectively.
Musah was initially banned for two years but it was reduced to six months after helping in unraveling the match fixing.
Fourteen Ashanti Gold players and 11 Inter Allies players including Okpe and Ali got ban of two to three years.
The LMC said:
Remo Stars duo of Isah Ali & Andy Okpe have been disqualified with immediate effect from featuring in the NPFL following the cancellation of their registration.
The cancellation of both players’ registration comes on the back of the review of their documents which failed to provide critical details about their status.
It’s left to be seen if the players’ punishment will be more severe.