‘Ghana must go’… how manufactured penalties, denied goals fetched Ghanaian referee Lamptey life FIFA ban

Ghanaian referee Joseph Odartei Lamptey on Wednesday lost his appeal to upturn a life ban from participating in any football competition after the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) found him guilty of match fixing.

In March, he was banned for life by FIFA, following allegations he influenced the result of a World Cup qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal, played on November 12, 2016.

FIFA has ordered that the match should be replayed sometime in November.

Lamptey was initially given three-month ban by Confederation of African Football (CAF) but FIFA upgraded it to a life ban. The South Africa-Senegal game wasn’t the first time Lamptey would be at the centre of controversial decisions that determined the football matches, both locally and internationally.


Lamptey was a FIFA licensed referee and was once named Ghana’s best referee but he had always been accused of influencing matches for betting syndicates.

Born on September 13, 1974 in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, Lamptey’s father  was a FIFA match official and later President of the Ghana Football Association.

His father’s influence was evident as he combined his job as a senior immigration officer at the Kotokoa Airport in Ghana with that of a football referee.


Ghanaian media have listed eight suspicious decisions that Lamptey made in domestic and international matches he officiated.


In the last match that nailed Lamptey, he gave a penalty for a nonexistent handball against Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the game in Polokwane, South Africa, but replays showed the ball struck Koulibaly’s knee and dropped to the ground.

Following the controversial penalty, South Africa scored two goals in four minutes to beat Senegal 2-1, prompting the West African country to lodge a complaint with CAF.


Lamptey officiated the match between two North African rivals, Tunisia’s Esperance and Al Ahli of Egypt in 2010, with the prize at stake being a place in the final of the year’s CAF Champions League semi-final.

He awarded a highly disputed goal in the match, played at the November 7 Stadium in Tunis.

Esperance striker Michael Eneramo scored a controversial goal with his hand just under one minute to deny the Egyptian giants an opportunity to win the title for the seventh time.

Television replays showed that the Nigerian clearly used his arm to steer the ball into the net after a headed cross. Al Ahly coach Hossam al-Badri said the referee could be blamed for causing them to miss the US$1.5m first prize and a place in the end-of-year FIFA Club World Cup.


In March 2016, Lamptey was again appointed by CAF to handle the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Congo DR and Angola. At 90 minutes, the game stood at DR Congo 2 – 0 Angola. Lamptey signaled for 5 minutes of added time at the end.

At 95 minutes, the referee didn’t call time. At roughly 95:30, a player went down and was stretchered off; this process took about a minute. The ref quickly signaled for physio staff to take him off and that was that.

At 99:30, he awarded a penalty in favour of Angola. Once the penalty kick was scored, the referee blew his whistle, signaling full time at almost double the added time.


Referee Lamptey officiated one of Ghana football’s most famous matches between Heart of Lions and Asante Kotoko in 2005.

Heart of Lions opened the scores in the 46th minutes but  Kotoko equalised in the 73rd minute from what many football analysts believed looked like an offside positioning.

The referee later awarded a dubious 86th-minute spot kick, which was met with a spontaneous reaction from the Kotoko fans. Not even a security beefed-up by the military police could stop the fans from ripping off the seats while Kotoko players and officials left for the dressing room.

The match is very popularly referred by Ghanaian soccer fans as Yenbo biom, which literally translates to ‘We won’t play again’.

ZAMALEK vs TP Mazembe

CAF appointed Lamptey for a match between Egyptian side Zamalek and TP Mazembe in the 2014 CAF Champions League group game.

Following a 1-0 defeat to Mazembe, Zamalek coach Ahmed Mido accused the Ghanaian referee of taking a bribe to cheat them. A 13th minute strike from Rainford Kalaba proved enough to hand Mazembe the vital win before their home fans to put them in full control of Group A with three matches left.

Lamptey came in for serious bashing from the Egyptian fans and media over claims he robbed the White Knights. Players of Zamalek charged on the experienced Ghanaian referee after he blasted his whistle to end the match to register their protest of his performance on the day.


Ghana’s Asante Kotoko and Medeama SC clashed in the final of the 2015 MTN FA Cup at the Sekondi-Takoradi stadium.

The Porcupine Warriors were beaten 2-1 at the Sekondi Stadium but the talking point of the game was about Richard Mpong’s disallowed equalizer for Kotoko.

The substitute headed in a spilled ball from Medeama goalkeeper Muntari Tagoe but Lamptey whistled for an infringement inside the box, which was unclear even to the Medeama SC players.

Asante Kotoko coach David Duncan hit out at Lamptey, describing his performance as “appalling” and calling on the Ghana FA to sanction him accordingly.


In a local match between Cape Coast Ebusua Dwarfs and Tarkwa Medeama, played on  on May 11, 2010, in the Ghana Division One final play off, Lamptey awarded a controversial penalty.

On the stroke of half-time, he awarded what could perhaps be described as the most astonishing penalty in the history of Ghanaian football.

Ebusua Dwarfs’ experienced striker Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor clashed with a Medeama SC defender and referee Lamptey didn’t hesitate to award a penalty in favour of the Cape Coast side, brushing off a heated protest from the Medeama SC players.

Replays clearly showed the incident was meters away from the goal area, with the referee too close to the scene to have missed it.




    Lamptey was in charge of a crucial decider in May 2014 at a promotional play-off between Accra Great Olympics and Tema Youth. The two sides were tied on points going into the game and required a win to seal promotion into the topflight.

    Tema Youth made an 11th-minute penalty request when striker Ekow Benson was clearly brought down in the Olympic penalty box but it was turned down by Lamptey.

    Tema Youth lodged an official complaint with the Ghana FA Referees Review panel but Lamptey was set free.

    Only that for his latest offence, he hasn’t gone scot-free. if anything, whatever freedom he now enjoys will be exercised faraway from the football field.

    Chikezie can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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