Sports Features of Friday, 27 July 2012
Source: Bernard Asubonteng
By Bernard Asubonteng
First, before making any comment regarding the above topic, let me emphasize that my lineage as an Ashanti is irrelevant when it comes to issues of national importance. Therefore, many of us who always hide behind pseudonyms on the web to try to reduce important and serious national discourse into tribal sensibilities and cheap insults are doing a great disservice to themselves and Ghana as a whole. Reading many of the reactions/responses to Asamoah Gyan’s radio interview as reported by the Ghanaweb, I realized, as usual, that some of the responders can’t make any coherent argument without resorting to tribal insults. This is unfortunate state of affairs.
Although this is not the first time some people have been playing to their tribal instincts, and it won’t be the last, yet I’m raising these concerns because we have come too far as a modern nation to keep impinging people’s motives always in the context of tribalism whenever someone raises issue of national importance. Like Asamoah Gyan, I don’t know Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe, but knowing him or not personally has nothing to do with the legitimacy or otherwise of the issue(s) he raised. The question we should be asking ourselves is: was the centerpiece of Nyaho-Tamakloe’s comments relevant? The comments maybe too blunt to some people but no doubt it is worthy of debate.
The ex-GFA chairman Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe was reported to have commented in a previous interview that "I'm shocked the FA has welcome Asamoah Gyan back [to Black Stars] particularly the FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi." Responding to the foregoing comments, Asamoah Gyan was said to have retorted in an interview that: “I don't even know who him. Who is he? To be honest I don't know him in person. Even if I meet him in person I can't recognize him so I am surprised how he reacts to issues regarding my persona especially and other Black Stars players in general.” (unedited quotation).
Now, let’s try to point out some of the holes in Gyan’s argument or response. As a national figure, Asamoah Gyan should have realized long time ago that Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe and all the fans out there don’t have to know a famous soccer player personally before analyzing or talking about him. As soon as you have the honor to wear your nation’s soccer jersey, you become a national hero and asset to all the citizens; therefore, as a national footballer your manners and dealings with the national team are not only an open book, but also they become a fair game to hunt.
There are millions of soccer fans who don’t know Asamoah Gyan on personal basis yet they’re crazy about him and I supposed Gyan loves them back, even though he doesn’t know them. Personally, I don’t know Michael Essien and Drogba but because of them I watch Chelsea games all the time. Does it mean that if they do something out of the ordinary I don’t have to express disappointment about it if I have one? What was Asamoah Gyan’s point? What actually was he upset about? Was it the tone or the style of Mr. Tamakloe’s comments/critique?
The core of Nyaho-Tamakloe’s message was clear: for far too long many Ghanaian soccer fans and even African football as a whole, have been subjected to a disappointing experience whereby some footballers used their national teams to attain fame and after that start behaving as if they’re larger than life, including the national teams that put them on the soccer pedestals. I think the former GFA president was raising an excellent point. Indeed, the current GFA leadership must show some backbone and makes it clear that besides health reasons, any player who turns his back on the national team for some trivial matters will not be allowed to return to the team again. Remember what Prince Kevin Boateng did to Ghana? The Ghanaian soccer officials should not create an impression that one player is indispensable or bigger than Ghana.
Many of us have been following worldwide soccer for some time, but hardly do we hear or witness, for instance, a scenario in which a famous Brazilian footballer has refused to play for his country because of criticisms from the fans. This is petty. Fame also comes with responsibility and accountability to the people on whose shoulders we the fame rests. One of the other reasons aside of mismanagement that is holding back African soccer is indiscipline and the false sense some of the players acquired along the way that somehow they’re above criticisms and accountability because of their fame.
On one hand, you can’t say you represent your nation but on the other, the people you represent can’t critically examine your actions toward the nation you serve. Gyan’s response that “Who is he?” apparently referring to Nyaho-Tamakloe and his critique of him (Gyan), smacks of childish arrogance and astonished misunderstanding of what it takes to be a public figure. Again, I don’t know Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe, and I don’t have to know him personally to say he was telling the truth, for truth has no respect for personalities or tribes. Some players need to discipline themselves and man up, too!
This writer is based in Atlanta, GA. You can read more of his articles at: www.globalpulpit.com or he can be reached at: [email protected]