One of the most decorated investigative journalists in Africa, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, looks very athletic, but apparently what he hates is the most followed game on earth, football. The Ghanaian, who operates incognito, at least for the past 11 years, opened his doors to Goal.com to share with the public why he sees the beautiful game as ugly.
“In fact, I hate football,” the Kurt Schork Award winner surprisingly pointed out to Goal.com. “Football is something that when I see being played I become very angry. I don’t know why, but I hate football.”
The man of several disguises – a catholic priest in Bangkok prison, janitor at a brothel, smuggler, psychiatric patient, factory worker, philanthropist, crown prince, iman – did not mince words when he confessed he would not waste his savings to watch football. But at least, the soft-spoken journalist can give the sport some level of attention when it involves the Ghana national team, the Black Stars, on certain occasions.
“I think I couldn’t play football when I was young so I hated it. I don’t know why, but I will never spend a dime to go to a stadium and to watch football.
“Sometimes we all get patriotic if Ghana is playing, but I have never gone beyond our national team to support any other team like Hearts [of Oak] or [Asante] Kotoko and RTU. Even now I hear Arsenal and Chelsea [being mentioned all over], but I have no clue what they are doing.
“I enjoy the debate around football, especially superstition [because] for me it works. History will support the point that I’m making that on some number of occasions we have seen miraculous incidents happening within football that tells me strongly that there must be some level of superstition in the game and that it is not all the skills that comes to bare gives us the level of scores on the field,” the law student argued.
The former Ghana Journalist of the Year cited a scenario that happened in 1998 involving the two top clubs of Ghana, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko to buttress his case. According to the grapevine, the oracles had told both teams to reserve one player to be the last to enter the pitch in a league game. Both teams played with 10 men and the referee had to stop proceedings to force the remaining two to be on the field. Their 11th players had to enter the inner parameter simultaneously, and the match ended 1-1.
The three-time Ghana Investigative Journalist of the Year recalled another incident involving RTU and AshantiGold some years back. He said an oracle had foretold that a particular lady needed to enter the pitch before the northern club can win that crucial game.
“RTU gave the lady a badge to indicate she was an official of the team. When she got to the gate for some reasons Goldfields fans got to know it was that lady. So they decided not to allow her in. It became a big scuffle.
“They kept pulling her dress until she became naked somehow, but as soon as her leg and head entered here was the first and then the second goal. RTU carried the day. If this is not superstition then what is it?” the 32-year-old quipped.
“Let’s not forget ‘the Miracle of El-Wak’ when Kotoko played Zamalek in 1987. Nobody expected Kotoko to win that match. How can we score three goals in the dying minutes and Kotoko fans will testify that it was the exact score given them from the oracles.
“Everyone is entitled to take his or her position on this topic, but I am saying I have seen superstition not working in many other fields, but in football yes. The facts are clear and I believe that it is always not the most excellent and skillful team that wins the match,” Anas stressed.
He is a walking trophy cabinet. The number of awards he has won is close to his years on earth. Among them he includes the Every Human Has Rights Media Award, KC Kuilsh International Award for Excellence in Print Journalism – 2009, Hero’s Award from the US State Department, Global Shining Light Award, a recognition by US president Barack Obama for “risk[ing] his life to report the truth” and ‘The Africa Pulitzer’.