Sports Features of Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Source: footy-ghana.com/Christopher Opoku
Good day, Kwasi. I hope and trust that all is well with you. After a lot of thought, I am choosing to write you this letter to express my thoughts on the work you have been doing at the helm of affairs as far as Ghana football is concerned.
It goes without saying that under your stewardship as President of the Ghana Football Association, the Black Stars have qualified for three consecutive World Cups.
Ghana became the first African country to win the World Youth Cup and after a period of having two representatives in Africa, Ghana now has four clubs playing in Africa every year. Under your tenure, the GFA has an office of its own and a Soccer Centre of Excellence at Prampram and several coaching courses have been organized for many people; particularly ex-players.
Kwesi, I am sorry but you have gradually killed our local football. Despite the fact that under your leadership, you secured multi-million cedi sponsorship deals for the Premier League, you did nothing to ensure that Premier League Clubs would adhere to simple basic procedures that would have quadrupled the value of our top flight.
Instead of ensuring that Premier League Clubs held mandatory pre and post-match press conferences, you just sat back and watched them sometimes wreak havoc on the media because of votes that you would get come the next elections. At times, all that you did was to issue statements of condemnation, but you never went beyond that.
The end result was the collapse of the Glo sponsorship deal because the GFA simply failed to give Glo the mileage it deserved for pumping $3 million a year into local football. Yes, you have stated on record that you are going to court to retrieve the monies owed you by Glo, but I am willing to bet that this is nothing more than a smokescreen because the GFA may have contravened so many clauses in the contract signed that getting the arrears back is the equivalent of expecting the Black Stars to win the World Cup with shambolic preparations! Indeed you did nothing to clamp down on bribery of referees by clubs because a few years ago, you told referees to ‘take the money and do the right thing.’ As a result, a referee was accosted with GHC 4000 in his sock four years ago during a first division match and to this day, you have done nothing about this.
Referees are being beaten up, assaulted and in some cases there have been one or two deaths and yet nothing is even done to punish the miscreants. Pitches that do not deserve to be approved for football in this country are approved and indeed security concerns are not taken seriously. The least said about the Division One League the better.
Home based players are not paid properly by their clubs because of a lack of leadership at the GFA level to ensure that acceptable minimum wages are paid. This is one reason why there is a massive exodus of talent from this country year in, year out. Our local game is dying and you have to take some responsibility for that because of an obsessive fixation with the Black Stars.
Coaches of the other national teams have not been paid salaries in two years and yet, with the Black Stars, money flows like milk. Because of the World Cup, the GFA offices bear semblance to a graveyard, because virtually everybody has gone to Brazil. So who is even running the GFA in your absence? Talk about misplaced priorities!
When the Black Satellites won the 2009 World Youth Cup, you stated that it was as a result of a rigorous pursuit of youth development structures in Ghana football. The reality could not have been more different as you recently stated at the Airtel Rising Stars launch ceremony that we have been using over aged players for age competitions. Looks like you have supervised actions that clearly show that we are taking the easy option!
You had a very capable person in Fred Pappoe who was not only your vice President but also the Chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee. As a journalist, I have had my issues with Mr. Pappoe but he clearly distinguished himself in that role and under his stewardship, Ghana had two relatively trouble free World Cup campaigns.
Mr. Pappoe may have had his faults, but his attention to detail was legendary and he ensured that nothing was left to chance. Because you had misconceptions about his loyalty or otherwise to you, after he lost to the late Jordan Anagblah in the GFA Vice Presidential elections, you removed him from that role and installed yourself as chairman. You also brought on very successful but very busy persons as members of the committee.
What you failed to do, Mr President was to build the sort of relationship that the likes of Pappoe, Owoahene Acheampong and Aloysius Denkabe built with the players. The end result is what ensued between Sulley Muntari and Moses Armah. Again your style of preparation for tournaments since you became the Black Stars Committee Chairman leaves a lot to be desired.
For instance, when Ghana was to play against Zambia in Ndola, instead of getting the team to camp in Ethiopia or Sudan to train in high altitude, the team camped in South Africa. The end result was that the team could barely run in the first half, during which Zambia scored the game’s only goal. Again, you insisted on playing a friendly with Japan and because of that, the Black Stars had to play against Zambia in Kumasi on a Friday and that decision of yours almost cost us the game and World Cup qualification.
Kevin Prince Boateng has come out to say that preparations for the tournament were shambolic and that you and your family were in business class whilst they the players were in economy class. Would it not have been better for you to have been with the players in economy class? Would that not have encouraged bonding with the players? And what we hear is that your good self and other GFA big wigs were sleeping in a better hotel than the players. Well, that was the equivalent of standing close to a fire and throwing gasoline into it. We all know the result.
How was it, that as the Black Stars management committee chairman, you couldn’t dialogue effectively with the players to be patient as per their appearance fees? Well, how could you, since you were living in better quarters than they were? Why would they not agitate? Or was it also because you wanted to get your pier diems in cash as well, as well as other management committee members? Or was this a holiday jaunt for you rather than a serious World Cup campaign? Or was this nothing more than another money making venture for you?
I condemn Muntari’s attack on Moses Armah but was it not because your actions had only angered the players? I am sorry Mr President but you failed as a leader of the delegation and as the chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee, you failed to handle the mess in camp! Already, I am told that one of your members, Yaw Boateng Gyan complain that despite the fact that no player was asked to bring his wife or girlfriend, the likes of Muntari, Boateng, Essien and Gyan did so. Well, since you took your wife and two children to Brazil, was that not a hypocritical stance taken by Mr. Boateng Gyan? What example were you setting?
Because of your inability to deal with the issues in camp, together with the Sports Minister, it took the intervention of the President of Ghana before the boys agreed to go to Brasilia.
Again, because you failed to resolve issues yourself, over $3 million was carted publicly from Ghana to Brazil and not only have we become a laughing stock in the eyes of the World; we have handed Brazil almost $500,000 in taxes free of charge! Some might even call this financial loss to the state, and others would also call it a convoluted case of money laundering!!
Clearly, as the President of the GFA, you might have done some good things, but as the Black Stars Committee Chairman, you failed miserably! You will have to step down from that committee and also dissolve that committee to retain any level of dignity, otherwise, you run the risk of losing whatever respect you have in the eyes of many.