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Soccer News of Friday, 1 February 2008

Source: The Statesman

Confusion Over 'Stretcher Cars' For Players

Officials point accusing fingers at each other

Apart from the fun, an interesting aspect of the on-going MTN Africa Cup of Nations tournament being hosted in the country is the use of motorized stretchers by medics, especially at the Ohene Djan and Baba Yara Stadium to carry off injured players from the pitch. However, the expectations of the fans, players and officials of having their favourite players enjoy a ride before receiving treatment have been dashed, following the withdrawal by the suppliers of the cars over a dispute with the Local Organising Committee.

The cars have since been replaced with hand-held stretchers.

Officials from K Badu Agro Chemicals Company Limited, the company that imported the stretcher cars, have confirmed this report. William Owusu-Amponsah , Public Relations Officer of the company, disclosed to The Statesman that their decision to withdraw the stretcher cars from the tournament was informed by the inability of the Local Organising Committee to commit themselves to a contract to either purchase or hire the stretcher cars.

According to Mr Owusu-Amponsah, K Badu had an arrangement with the LOC to use the stretcher cars for the opening match of the tournament after which a formal agreement was to be signed. Based on this, the company went ahead to import eight of the cars, two for each stadium. This claim has however been rejected by the LOC.

According to Magnus Rex Danquah, Chief Operating Officer of the Ghana 2008 LOC, the company is just trying to "blackmail" the LOC into purchasing the cars. He explained that K Badu Chemicals Company Limited was not the only company that offered to provide the LOC with stretcher cars, indicating that there were about 10 other companies who had expressed interest in supplying the LOC with similar cars.

He said the LOC refused all the offers out right because according to its Medical Committee, the hand-held stretcher is better than the stretcher car. The Committee, according Mr Danquah stated further that the stretcher cars would rather aggravate the condition of players suffering from concussions due to the way it shakes when in use. But, "If anything at all, the National Sports Council would have been the best people to approach to purchase the cars since we will no longer have use for them after the tournament," he added.

He said upon their refusal to purchase the cars, K Badu Chemicals Company Limited then offered that their stretcher cars be used by the LOC free of charge.

But Mr Owusu-Amponsah maintains that the LOC has not stated its intentions, either to purchase the cars or otherwise and that several discussions the company had with officials from the LOC, Ghana Football Association and the Ministry of Education and Sports on the stretcher cars have yielded no decision putting the company in a state of uncertainty.Attempts to get officials of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports failed, as the sector Minister and his Deputies were said to be in meetings and other officials declined to comment without their Minister's official sanction.

In another development, the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the LOC, Capt Andy Sam has been asked to step aside by the LOC, for reasons still unknown. However, our sources say he has been held directly responsible for some of the blunders that have occured in the organisation of the ongoing tournament. Our sources say his duties will be taken over by officials of the National Sports Council. LOC officials either refused to answer their mobile phones or had switched them off as at press time.