The temptation for referees to take bribes is undeniably high, especially in Africa, as evidenced in the popular expose, ‘Number 12’ by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas a few years ago.
One reason accounting for teams’ propensity to bribe referees is because it’s easier to bribe a referee for favourable results than a whole team because they control everything on the field within the 90 minutes of play.
However, retired Ghanaian FIFA referee, Solomon Yamoah, has scaled many bribery hurdles by refusing offers from team officials who wanted to influence him with money in the course of his career.
Mr Yamoah has recounted how he discovered that a man who came to him to seek his help to officiate in fovour of Kumasi Asante Kotoko to win against Hearts of Oak didn’t come from Kotoko as he claimed as he rather came from the camp of Accra Hearts of Oak.
“The man who came to me with the brown envelop was working at the presidency so he was coming from the castle, that was JJ Rawlings era,” he told Asempa FM in an exclusive interview.
“He told me he was an official from Kotoko who had heard that I will be the one to officiate the match so he wanted me to help them win.
“I told him that if you are a referee and you are given a big game like this to handle and you take money to favour one team, you are likely to kill supporters because Ghana football is all about Hearts and Kotoko and should anything happen, people will die,’’ he explained.
Mr Yamoah said he told the so-called Kotoko fan that he wouldn’t pretend that he hasn’t taken money for a game before but in this particular case, he wasn’t going to accept it.
According to him, the man, on leaving him, went to the Ghana Football Association to tell high-profiled members of the FA about what had transpired between them.
Mr Yamoah said that was not the end of the many temptations he faced as a referee as he was also approached in Sierra Leone by some officials with a $50,000 bribe when he was appointed to officiate an Afcon qualifier between Congo and Sierra Leone but he refused that one too.
He said he later realised that both incidents were plots by CAF and GFA officials to test him if he was a corrupt referee.
He added that he took money from team officials, especially, from home teams for transportation after games but never took money before a match because taking money before a match may influence your decision as a referee.
Mr Yamoah said he won the trust of members of the GFA so he was mostly officiating all the big matches in the Ghana premier league.