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Sports Features of Tuesday, 29 March 2016


GFA officials bought tickets to watch Stars clash with Mozambique

Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye

The Black Stars of Ghana won 3-1 against the Mambas of Mozambique on Thursday in the first leg of the double-header of the 2017 Afcon qualifier.

The result was convincing enough to keep the Black Stars on top of the group, but events that happened before the game took the shine away from the beautiful game.

Many were taken aback when news broke that the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi, his deputy George Afriyie and other FA officials had to buy their own tickets to watch the game.

It was not surprising to gather that people were shocked to the marrow when they heard the development as someone asked: - How can you ask Alhaji Grusah to buy ticket to watch a King Faisal game?

The alarm bells quickly pointed in the direction of the body that was responsible for ticketing for the said game.

But regretfully and despondently, the National Sports Authority that is always responsible for the printing and distribution of tickets for national team matches quickly distanced itself from the happenings, insisting the entire exercise of printing and distributing tickets were taken over by the Ministry of Youth and Sports less than 24 hours to the game.

Exclusive details chanced upon after the Black Stars triumph revealed that a paltry 15 complimentary cards were issued by the Sports Ministry to the Ghana Football Association as their quota for the free entries to the stadium.

With a minimum of 22 Executive Committee members running the FA, the disgruntled body passed on the offer which forced some members of the Exco to watch the game from the comfort of their homes rather paying to enter the stadium.

The question I have been struggling to find answers to is that, why did the Minister order for the NSA to stop printing the tickets for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to take over with less than 24 hours to the game?

Upon investigating the development, it was revealed that the Ghana Football Association usually collect their allocation from the Sports Authority.

As a result, the GFA President personally went to the Sports Authority on Wednesday to collect the tickets. He was asked to come the next day because they had not completed printing the tickets.

The next day came and the GFA President sent Isaac Addo, the acting General Secretary of the FA to go for the tickets only to be told that the Minister has ordered that the Ministry of Youth and Sports should take over the printing and distribution of the tickets.

Isaac Addo went there and the tickets were not ready.

Meanwhile the sponsors of Black Stars, GNPC, were calling for their tickets because they also needed to serve their clients who were set to go to the stadium and watch the match.

Finally 15 tickets were given to the FA at 12:45 on Thursday, the match day.

Further checks revealed that 40 tickets are usually given to GNPC who give some to other oil companies, their partners and clients in the business world as well as Uni Bank, the banking partners of the Black Stars.

The GFA President decided to purchase tickets for the sponsors since they were expecting the tickets to also give out to their clients a day earlier.

Another intriguing question which needs serious answers is why the tickets were reduced from 40 to 15.

Couldn’t the Minister, wanting to do a decent job, have liaised up with the FA, know the number of complimentary tickets they take per match, and if there is the need to reduce the number, they agree upon it?

Was it not disrespectful for the Minister to have acted in a way that could have marred the beauty of the game and for that matter the three points at stake?

I think Nii Lante must know that even if he is doing the right thing, mention must be made that if you do the right thing wrongly, it eventually becomes wrong in itself.

How come players could not get their three complimentary tickets each for their families ahead of the game until 30 minutes to kickoff that the Protocol Officer of the FA, Mr. Alex Asante was called that complimentary tickets for the players were ready?

Was the Ministry expecting that the players will boycott their warm up sessions and sit in their hotels waiting for the cards when the game was just 30 minutes away?

When was the last time we experienced such a shambolic arrangement with regards to ticketing during a Black Stars game?

Could it be because of the takeover by the Ministry that resulted in such flaws?

Mr. Asante was called at 3:00pm to come for the tickets of the players when the players were already in the dressing room.

How can the players give the tickets to their families to come and watch the match at that time?

With all these challenges, the FA needed no indication that they will not get tickets for their staff so they immediately made arrangements to buy tickets for their members to enable them watch the match at the stadium.

All the 22 Executive Committee members did not get complimentary tickets as has been the practice and the FA had to buy for them. Others watched the game on TV.

I realized the act of compelling the FA President and his staff to buy tickets for the game was calculated when I remembered the new Sports Minister in one of his numerous interviews said the number of complementary tickets for the next Black Stars match [Before the Mozambique game] will be reduced.

He added that even he being the Minister, he will buy to make small money for Government because they spend much before, during and after black stars matches.

Did he buy the ticket to watch the game too?

In the said interview, he blamed the NSA of not managing tickets well.

It is, therefore, easy to conclude that, that is why the Minister ordered his outfit to take over the printing and distribution of the tickets from the NSA.

I was therefore not completely shocked when the FA President was asked to produce his VVIP ticket which he humbly did. Shocking!

The latest development look set to weaken the fragile relationship between the FA and the Sports Ministry in the coming weeks ahead of the 2017 continental showdown.