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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Abedi Pele fights to clear name
Durosimi Thomas
BBC Sport, Accra

Abedi 'Pele' Ayew
Abedi 'Pele' Ayew is the owner and manager Nania FC

Three-time African Footballer of the Year Abedi 'Pele' Ayew has launched an appeal to clear his name of match-fixing.

The former Black Star, who owns and manages Nania FC, was among officials from several clubs who were banned last week for one year after being accused of match-fixing.

Nania's 31-0 win over Okwawu United and Mighty Jets' 28-0 defeat at the hands of Great Mariners prompted the Ghana Football Association to investigate.

"I will go wherever I can to get justice as we have been banned on conjecture," Pele told BBC Sport.

Pele has filed an appeal with the help of a lawyer, who will fight to overturn the verdict against Nania.

Apart from the bans on the club officials, all four clubs were demoted from Ghana's second tier to the fourth tier and fined US$20,000.

Yet Pele is angry with the decision.

"There was no evidence that before, during or after the match, the officials of Okwahu United and myself and/or any of my officials engaged in any form of discussion or even camaraderie - nor did any such thing ever take place," he said in a statement.

"What then did we do wrong?"

"The only possible accusation is that my team scored more goals.

"And if that is the case, my contention is that while the scoreline may raise eyebrows, it does not point to an irrefutable conclusion that the match was fixed.

"At the height of my career and even that of Maradona or the legendary Pele, it is very possible to record that score against a team featuring six players and a seventh in goal who is not a natural goalkeeper."

Okwahu finished the game, in which Nania even missed a penalty, with seven men after a number of injuries, which forced an outfield player into goal.

"Maybe my strikers should be educated that when they are next playing with a superior numerical advantage, they should refrain from scoring more goals to avoid being banned," Abedi stated.

"I have also been advised that my players were not treated fairly but I will leave that to my lawyers to handle."

"Scorelines in football may be baffling but cannot be the basis for judging a match as fixed," the 1982 African Nations Cup winner emphasised.

He used last week's Uefa Champions League game when England's Manchester United thrashed AS Roma of Italy 7-1 to buttress his point.

"The recent score between Manchester United and Roma could have recorded a cricket score if Roma had been reduced to seven men.

"In the statutes of Fifa, it is spelt out clearly that there must be evidence of such impropriety before sanctions can be imposed.

"If there is a video recording of the game, I would love for it to be played so that everybody will be able to judge for themselves."

The GFA is expected to meet soon to fix a date to look into the appeals submitted by Nania and the other three clubs.



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