Palmer-GFA verdict, CAS full decision

Court Of Arbitration Of Sport

The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has released its full verdict on Mr. Wilfred Kwaku Osei versus the Ghana Football Association (GFA) where the former lost.GH

Mr. Osei, also known as Palmer lost his 11 months appeal at the CAS on Wednesday, September 2, 2020.

The verdict signed by the President of the Panel, Michele A. R. Bernasconi ruled that the appeal filed on October 14, 2019, by Mr. Wilfred Kwaku Osei against the GFA with respect to the decision rendered on October 4 respectively October 8 by the Elections Committee of the Respondent is dismissed.

Below is the full ruling:
III.1. No valid grounds to declare the Appellant ineligible

The Appellant argues that the Appealed Decision should be set aside because there were no valid grounds to declare the Appellant ineligible.

The Panel notes that the Appealed Decision is rather short. There are basically two grounds that have been debated with the Appellant during the Integrity Check procedure and on which the Appealed Decisions are based.

The first ground relies on the fact that the Appellant had signed on behalf of his club an acknowledgment of debt and promise of payment in favour of GFA and thereafter refused to honour such declaration.

The Panel considers this first argument advanced to confirm the Appellant’s ineligibility not to be very strong. An owner and president to a club may have legitimate reasons to refuse to honour a debt, notwithstanding a valid and binding obligation to do so.

Similarly, the Panel acknowledges that not honouring a debt of a club towards the
national federation may be in conflict with the aspiration to become president of the
same federation. Further, the behaviour of the Appellant and of his club does raise some legitimate doubts, particularly given that the Appellant has not submitted any
convincing evidence to prove the legitimacy of the club’s refusal to make the payment and his own capacity and efforts to positively influence the club’s compliance.
However, the Panel would not be satisfied that, solely based on this ground, the GFA
Elections Committee could declare the Appellant non-eligible.

The second ground on which the Appealed Decision is based on the behaviour of the Appellant in violation of the applicable Ethics Rules of the Respondent. In particular the argument raised by the Appellant in the public that representatives of the Respondent
and of the Sports bodies of the Ghanaian Government should have made “unclassified payments” to match officials and that a failure to do so accounted for Ghana’s inability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

On the basis of the evidence submitted, and in particular the undisputed existence of a final decision of the Ethics bodies of the Respondent, which reprimanded the Appellant for his public remarks, the Panel is satisfied that the GFA Elections Committee had grounds to determine the non-eligibility of the Appellant. The Panel is of the opinion that a person desiring to represent the GFA as President should be of irreproachable behaviour and be in possession of a high spectrum of norms and values including full integrity. The words quoted on Citi FM, which are not in dispute, establish a lack of the
requisite integrity for the presidency that the GFA Elections Committee properly and
reasonably relied upon.

The defences raised by the Appellant do not convince the Panel that such a
determination is illicit. In particular, the fact that the Appellant has not been sanctioned by an Ethics body of FIFA does not mean that his behaviour was not questionable.

III.2. Conclusion

The Panel therefore comes to the conclusion that the Appealed Decision relies on valid grounds, in particular when considering the violations of the Ethics Code committed by the Appellant. Accordingly, the decisions rendered on 4 October 2019, respectively 8
October 2019 by the GFA Elections Committee shall be confirmed and the appeal filed by the Appellant shall be dismissed.

The Panel finally notes the Respondent’s objective of regulating and proceeding to the elections of the GFA in a proper and transparent manner. It is true that the GFA
Elections Committee has adopted a high stance when judging the eligibility of the
Appellant. The Panel trusts that such high standard was applied to all candidates and relevantly, no material has been produced in these arbitral proceedings to retain the opposite. The Panel also trusts that in the future, the Respondent will continue to apply a high standard of integrity for candidates to the GFA Presidency and the GFA bodies.

Any different behavior would be unfair.

The above conclusion, finally, makes it unnecessary for the Panel to consider the other requests submitted by the Parties to the Panel. Accordingly, all other prayers for relief, requests, and claims are rejected.

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