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Sports Features of Thursday, 7 August 2014

Source: Ekow Baffou Eburay

Brazil Fiasco: Arrogant tyrants and corrupt officials caused it!

Mr. Sarpong I have read some of your articles before and after the return of the Black Stars from Brazil; your points are well thought out, coherent and to the point. However, I’ll hasten to advise you to develop a thick skin if you’re going to be published on this forum; particularly on the chosen subject matter of discussion-“Ghana’s golden jewel, Osagyefuo’s Black Stars” the nation’s great unifying symbol for all Ghanaians.

I’m certain you’re not surprisee at the viciousness of some of the attacks on your person; at the same time you can understand and forgive people’s emotional attachment to the team that borders on irrational at times; in the heat of the moment.

Now let’s get down to our bone of contention, the 3rd paragraph of the three Amigos Pt. II, you exerted your right to critique the players; and rightly so, however, this quote “Do not ask of others what you’re not willing to do yourself”- Eleanor Roosevelt; appears to answer the issue of wives of the three senior players.

It’s my understanding that the President of Ghana Football Association (GFA), Kwasi Nyantakyi , travelled to Brazil with his wife and two children; if this assertion is true, then as the head of the delegation and the commander-in-chief, Kwasi Nyantakyi broke the rule of his delegation by taking his family. Respect must be earned not demanded; one thing we (Ghanaians) should keep in mind, the players may be young, but, must be respected as adults, fathers and husbands! It’s their basic rights as men. They do not relinquish these rights merely by being selected into the team; this is not boot-camp or the military, but rather a patriotic duty and a sense of pride to serve the nation.

In fact, I agree with most of the points made in your articles, so this is just a complimentary exercise. Now, let’s discuss Mr. Muntari’s out-burst in Brazil. Once again let me start with an African proverb that appears to do the trick of explaining things when you’re addressing African audience “He who is being carried does not realize how far the town is, “These Ghana Football Association (GFA) officials have been feeding high on the hog, by that I mean on the backs of these players; collecting per diems and bonus’ without justification that they earned them; so how would they know how it feels to do all the work and others enjoying the fruit of their labor; “Monkey dey work baboon dey chop”. Let’s establish the fact that Muntari was one of the hardest working players of the first two games in Brazil….!

That aside, I could see how his frustration with the officials will boil over; first losing the first game to USA, Secondly allegations of match fixing and thirdly, the issue of delayed bonuses; may have prompted Mr. Muntari to ask Armah to justify his utility in the delegation. A question that has not been answered or cleared by any of the officials; on the priority scale of things important, the players should be primo uno, because keep in mind the so called three amigos can afford to do without the bonus and still live comfortably; they’re millionaires in their own right for Christ sake!

However, a negotiated contract must be respected and carried out as agreed, waffling on such an issue can undermine morale and trust between management and the playing body and that’s exactly what happened. These officials and the government could have avoided and spared Ghana such worldwide embarrassment of flying three million dollars of cash to Brazil; if it had been dispensed or paid to the playing body before they left the country for the competition, especially when the funds had been provided by FIFA; why was it held back? Secondly, early release of the funds could have been used as a morale booster before the start of the competition; thirdly, the rush and ill-advised decision to kick out the two senior players at such a critical point of the competition was a moral downer!

Keep in mind you don’t go to a battle of survival and expect to come out victorious when you leave some of your best generals at home!

Ghana was not at the competition to protect fragile or over bloated egos, but rather to improve on our last performance and we were to use every available resource at our disposal to achieve our goal and the purpose of our participation.

The decision to send K.P. Boateng packing before such a critical game was a serious tactical error on the part of Akwasi Appiah and seriously undermined my trust in his abilities as a coach at the WC level. What was more important to him; winning and moving the team forward or his fragile ego?

A world class coach must know how to calibrate the skills of applying discipline, persuasion, physical health, psychology, social work, allergic to failure, keen instincts to sense trouble before it happens, modesty balanced with extreme confidence in one's abilities to do the job.

Another salient point to consider; I’m convinced this is not the first time officials have attempted to siphon off player bonus’ through dubious means hence their reluctance to trust the officials, “A dog does not always bite when it’s upset” because it risk biting the hand that feeds it. The non-essential officials on the doe should have kept quiet and stayed out of the way, but they pushed the envelope too far hence, “When the deer insist on dancing to the sweet tunes of the drummer, he risk’s his own hide”. So Armah received the blunt of Muntari’s fury.

To judge a man’s heart, you do so by his deeds not his pronouncement; Mr. Muntari played his heart out on the field of play when it counted the most. It may have crossed his mind in his moment of rage or anger and wondered whiles they were on the field giving and willing to die in the honor and grace of Ghana; they had these vultures parading as officials whose only preoccupation was figuring out how to siphon off funds.

Obarima Sulley is known to extemporaneously express his thoughts without fear or favor from time to time (an act considered insubordination/disrespect by Ghanaian etiquette standards), which has gotten him into trouble with officials on a couple of occasions: I suspect some of these officials over the years have developed enmity towards him and ceased on the opportunity to use this incident as an excuse or coup-de-grace to silence him and the other two to permanently expunge them from the history of the national team.

This rationalization of the possible factors or motives that may have precipitated Sulley’s violent outburst is not any attempt to condone violence on my part, far from it; but bear in mind each individual responds to a situation differently depending on temperament and the intensity of the situation at hand.

The best way of settling issues and finding solutions to future problems and conflicts is preferably through peaceful means, however, I cannot sit in judgment of Mr. Muntari because I cannot profess to know or identify with what he was feeling at the time of the incident, but I believe his heart was in the right place based on the moral strength of the question he’s reported to have asked about non-essentials on the delegation roster.

One fundamental principle of fairness familiar to all fair-minded people is what I call the tripod pillars of truth; your side, my side and the Truth. It appears to me this basic principle was not employed by the so-called eminent sports personalities (Nyaho Tamakloe and Ben Kouffie) back in Ghana to help resolve and prevent future occurrence of such incidents; before they called for the dismissal of the three players.

Rather it was painfully clear to all who wish to recognize what was going on; the dictatorial instincts (couched in the disguise of discipline) of these so-called wise men was in full regalia, their enmity and indignation directed at the three Stars for having the moral courage or fortitude to question the improprieties of authority. These men sent out the clarion call for the expulsion of Muntari, Boateng and Essien. These “Wise men” threw away the baby with the bath water as the proverbial saying goes; in so doing, the nation got a glimpse of their leadership and managerial styles, Management by intimidation and Submission. I wonder if Mr. Kouffie took the time to find out from the player what he had to say before rendering his opinion and weighing in on the side of Coach Akwesi Appiah.

Here are some excerpts of Kevin Prince Boateng from AFP Yahoo. Sport: Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng says disastrous preparations contributed greatly. "It was a nightmare from start to finish," Boateng revealed after being kicked out of camp before the last group match for allegedly swearing at Coach Kwesi Appiah. Boateng said the journey from the Netherlands to the United States took 19 hours, including nine hanging around an airport.

"The flight from Miami to Brazil lasted 12 hours, and our legs ached from sitting in economy class while the Ghana FA president, his wife and children were in business class. "The association gets so much money from sponsors and FIFA -- it was certainly not used for hotels, flights, preparations and the team."

These excerpts are the synopsis of the fiasco in Brazil; Kevin makes the point without pointing fingers what the real problem was and is - CORRUPTION!

Mr. Muntari has proven and earned my respect as well as my trust to believe that, what he did was an act of frustration, patriotic zeal and duty to the nation to set things straight by any means necessary; he has became a bigger man in my eyes with a great deal of respect for him “In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins his case” and that is what is happening; they’re trying to shut him up. If you notice the officials are in the “let’s circle the wagon” mode to cover their own backsides, but as Abraham Lincoln will say “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”, Mr. Muntari grabbed the bull by the horn and did what he had to do damn the penalties because he beliefs he’s on the right side of history, I say Amen to that! Mr. Muntari is a HERO to be praised not scolded!

These tyrants and bullies such as Ben Kouffie, Nyaho Tamakloe and the likes are the ones that need to be kicked to the curb to allow the younger generation to take over. Why is Mr. Ben Kouffie been retained as Chair of GFA Technical team at his age? He will be doing Ghana a great favor by following his own advice and retiring. I wonder if some of the authors of these articles have personal dislike of Mr. Muntari! What does he mean by sent home disgraced? It's the officials who were exposed! Obarima Sulley has no business apologizing to anyone; instead he's earned our respect and admiration of some of us here in the Diaspora for his bravery, and gallantry on the field and a patriotic zeal to fight for a better Ghana!

His bravery to confront corruption without fear or favor must be commended. Alhaji Muntari should be very proud of his son, he thought him well; fight for what's right regardless of the price; he has produced an exemplary citizen worthy to be called Son of Ghana! With time he will be vindicated because he's on the right side of history. Mother Ghana needs a few more Sulleys to guard against such plunder! May Allah be praised!

Extension of Akwesi Appiah’s contract:

For patriotic reasons I’m happy and proud that the Black Stars have a local coach, however, I’m not about to go soft on him because he’s our own. I believe Kwasi Nyantakyi and his hunch men should have waited for stakeholders to weigh in and be consented on the extension issue before extending the contract. With most contracts there are targets and benchmarks that must be met to fulfill the strategic goal or objective of the contract. In this case the strategic goal or target was to make it to the semi-finals surpassing 2010 achievement or the second tier option of equaling 2010 quarterfinals. Let me refresh our memory; I commented on Akwasi Appiah’s performance after 2013 Africa Cup Nations when I read an article published on the Ghanaweb.com with the title “Kwasi Appiah won’t go – Nyantakyi” in which Nyantakyi was quoted as saying “firing coaches is not the panacea of the team’s poor show”.

In my commentary I pointed out a direct contradiction to his admission that his chosen coach Appiah lacks the necessary skills i.e. “his outfit will do its best to strengthen the capacity of the coach” to be the head coach of the Black Stars. I also asserted we should not condone double standard for performance evaluation on how he is (A Appiah) doing his job. I continued my comments with “I’m not in support of lowering our expectations towards our goal just because he’s an African……No!”

What’s the incentive for Coach Appiah to try harder when his job security is virtually guaranteed by Nyantakyi. Constructive criticism is in order, considering the trade-off and sacrifices being made by the less privileged Ghanaian; the only way the investment is justifiable is when the team is winning and winning big.

Now let’s go back to the current issue at hand, Akwasi Appiah’s assignment was two-fold; qualify the Black Stars to Brazil and surpass the 2010 results. He passed the first phase of the assignment with great success, but failed miserably on the second phase. Based on this result I think it was imperative that GFA would have welcomed inputs from stakeholders and made the whole process transparent and honorable, keeping in mind they are public servants and serve at the pleasure of the public. Rather what does the public get; hurried decision to extend the contract without any accountability to the Ghanaian public. With these self-made Czars running the affairs of football and the country in a broader sense, the country cannot expect improvements worthy of praise!

Well, this is my two pesewas of input to the national debate of the Brazil fiasco.

Ekow Baffou Eburay.

Sacramento, California

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