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Sports Features of Sunday, 6 April 2014

Source: Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Between Ghana’s FA and Media ………..

It’s that moment. When you feel like you are almost betraying a sacred pact you made with yourself. Then again I found ‘spontaneous me’ renegotiating with ‘rational me’. Just as I suspected, ‘spontaneous me’ got the better part of me, but that’s only because the subject is the Black Stars and World Cup budget. I know, I know, it’s becoming a tired subject and am sure you are about to have that moment too, I can imagine, but stay with me, tarry just a little longer, I promise this will be precise and concise. Come let’s dig in!

Until this very moment, I promised myself not to wade into the never ending debate about the Black Stars World Cup participation; the purported $20 million budget, $100,000 appearance fees, $19,000 group stage match winning bonuses, etc. While a greater section of the media stuck to it guns that the proposed budget was completely overblown, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) officials took a position of minimal or zero revelation of the contents of the proposed budget. That entrenched position only fed into the suspicion that the GFA had something to hide. Corruption was imputed by sections of the media and mischief by some GFA officials. Rightly or wrongly, the battle lines were drawn and both parties have been making their cases in the court of public opinion.
Now, I am not here to discuss the justification or otherwise of the contents of the proposed or approved budget, like the alleged $30,000 for foodstuffs which has purportedly been slashed to $10,000. No, I won’t go into the contents of the approved budget; you have had enough of that. I am here to speak for Team Black Stars; to point out that between the GFA and the media’s quest to prove who is right, lies the need for both parties find a common ground in the larger interest of the Black Stars, whose preparation for the forthcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil might suffer physically and psychologically, if this soap opera continues. Here are my 2 Pesewas on this whole saga.

Now what triggered me to break my “sacred pact” and revisit this topic was when I heard the president of the GFA, Kwesi Nyantakyi on a local radio station seemingly denying that he had not seen the contents of the approved budget. At that point, I was like, come on Mr. Nyantakyi! I can understand that, professionally. It is critical to manage communication; what you put out there for public consumption and what you don’t. I understand, but we all work in corporate environments and we are all conversant with the dynamics of budget preparation and approvals. As various heads of departments, you propose a budget; it goes to a higher authority for approval. We all know that more often than not, the initial proposals are always amended, whether amended up or down, amendments are common. But critically, the amended budget is not shoved down the throats of the initiator, in this case, the GFA and by extension its president. The amendment is usually done in consultation with the initiator, so that his or her buy in is sought and even if his buy in isn’t sought; the final numbers are not withheld from the initiator. For Nyantakyi as president of the GFA, to claim to be in complete darkness about the approved budget because he hasn’t received an official notification is basically towing an unnecessary hard-line and being technical to a fault, almost insulting the intelligence of Ghanaians. A simple no comment would have been better.

Increasingly, the GFA is creating a “We versus Them” situation which shouldn’t be the case. The GFA led by its president should realize that Ghanaians have every right to information concerning the workings of the Association and the Black Stars, budgets inclusive, and instead of taking a confrontational approach; the GFA should respect that right of accountability and manage information flow to the public. This “We versus Them” mentality is only creating disaffection for the GFA and unfortunately extending to the Black Stars. Naturally, this should not affect the nation’s support for the Black Stars but in our socio cultural setting, people, once they believe rightly or wrongly, that you are doing them in, wish you failure and not to say that is right, but then it could mean the spirit of the nation may not be fully behind the team come June when the World Cup kicks off.

While the media may be totally justified in its quest for accountability and transparency, I will advise that the approach, the choice of words used in reportage and interviews be decent and not confrontational or personalized. I have listened to several TV and radio shows where this budget issue has been discussed and you can clearly see that the theme of the program is set up to sensationalize and have a melodramatic effect. So, while we implore the GFA to be forthcoming with information and depart from their entrenched “I haven’t seen” and “I don’t know” approach, the media should also be responsible enough not to personalize and overly dramatize its shows just for ratings, because between the GFA and the Media’s “fight” lies a suffering Black Stars. It may be a boring end, to have sanity prevail in a long drawn soap opera, but we will gladly take boring for now and have ecstasy later in in Brazil. See, “rational me” had the last word after all.
follow me on twitter @niithesoccerguy
(Culled from the 90 Minutes)

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