Sports Features of Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Source: Nana Agyemang

8 Million to 1


One has no way in which to really verify the authenticity of the statements attributed to public figures and or celebrities these days as communication has become such a wildfire. And with the improvement on a daily basis of how we electronically communicate at the touch of a button no matter where we are in the world or with little concern to other tasks we are undertaking at the same it becomes equally important that we ensure that what ever the message may be that it is flawless!

Unfortunately since this debacle about winning bonuses and the increase in demand by the Ghana Football Association to the Ministry of Youth & Sports began the truth is yet to emerge about the real reason for the increase. Was it really a demand made by Black Star players or was it an increase factored in by those managing the Senior National Team the Ghana Black Stars? If the general public were skeptical in the beginning about the motives for the demand of $8,000,000 for the participation of the Black Stars in a competition we have suffered to finish in the top five for so many years that sceptism has blossomed into something else! And what made matters worse were the careless and flippant statements attributed to the President of the GFA Mr. Kwasi Nyantaki.

"I can say we are almost through with negotiations on the budget proposal to the Sports Ministry. The figures we sent were based on negotiations with the players but when we recently went for a friendly in Portugal, we had further negotiations and it is possible there will be a reduction in their demands." -Kwasi Nyantakyi

When I saw this statement just a few days ago I couldn't help chuckling. I mean how hilarious! The coach of the Black Stars, Kwasi Appiah had and continues to painstakingly shift through as many players as he possibly can in order to come up with what he believes to be the best 23 players available to represent Ghana. Meanwhile the President of the GFA is clearly intimating on the other hand that he is having ongoing negotiations with Black Star players about their bonuses. Hiw can this be possible? The coach has yet to select his squad! It is even more incredulous to note is that the GFA President sticks his neck out further by referring to discussions they have had with players when the Black Stars "third string" side faced Cape Verde in Portugal! Considering none of the so called big names were there for that match and the fact that only 25% of those selected for the Cape Verde friendly have a remote chance of being called up, I wonder who the GFA President was referring to having negotiations with whilst in Porugal? Could it have been those Black Star Management members he was referring who travelled with him to Portugal? It looks as if the truth may have been economised on this one! Lol.

And now since it has become more than apparent that the hue and cry over the AFCON budget does not look likely to subside the GFA President then says "The players are very aware of the reactions back home regarding their demands and they are also ready to come down small so when we meet to review the budget, by all means it will be reduced." Once again I ask who are these anonymous players? No one knows those yet to be selected so who has the GFA President been negotiating with? Coach Kwasi Appiah says and is clear in his conviction that "no-one is guaranteed a place in his final squad for the 2013 African Cup of Nations." Indeed no single player has yet to be selected!

And as if that aint enough; not being content to be outdone by the man of the moment Presidential aspirant for the PNC Hassan Ayriga with his cough and foot in mouth diesease; the GFA President illustrates that he should be awarded with the "gaff of the month award" by informing the Minstry of Youth & Sports to scrap a $70,000 budget provision for the media because they dared to criticize the budget in the first place. Citing his reason for making the provision in the first place Mr. Nyantakyi said “I've told the Minister of Sports to scrap the media relations provision ($70,000) we made because the people (journalists) who we have allocated this for, have kicked against the money. “They say they don't want it. We thought we were extending a helping hand due to cases we witnessed at certain tournaments were you would see journalists surrounding top officials requesting for money to support themselves,” “Let me give you an example. At Germany 2006 (World Cup), right in my presence, I saw journalists surround politicians who joined us at the tournament saying; ‘Oh Honourable, since I came, I have not been able to settle my hotel bills…. And the Minister or MP will dig into his pocket and dash you some money...’

Well I don't remember that example but I do remember every journalist except myself receiving the sum €300-€400 as an allowance during the World Cup in Germany 2006. And this payment was not budgeted for so where did that money come from. And then four years later the GFA made a budget provision of $50,000 for the media as the Ghana Black Stars made their second consecutive appearance at the World Cup this time in South Africa. Although well intentioned every single journalist who were in attendance in South Africa denied receiving even a $, so where did that budget provision make it's way to?

The misingenous nature and hypocrisy of the whole saga makes me cringe. Whilst he has moved swiftly to wipe out the provision for the media due to criticism I am waiting to see if he will reduce the budget provision for winning bonuses for the Black Star Management Committee members too, as they are supposed to receive the same amount in bonuses as the players just for being there! I guess that may be too much to ask but it goes without sayng that discerning Ghanaian stakeholders and observers will be able to realise the immorality of the situation at hand because whilst the coach and players are tasked to wn the African Cup of Nations (for the first time in 31 years) the Management Committee have no fixed targets apart from ensuring that they are on time for the Ghanaian National Anthem in the VIP stand of the Stadium on every given match day! Yes as it stands $15,000 for watching a 90 minute football match and enjoying the sights, sounds and much more of South Africa!

I have no doubt that the budget will be slashed by the Ministry and rightfully so too but not just for the sake of reducing it. A series of probing inquiries into budget headings and the substantive allocation must also be raised. For example over $1,000,000 has been earmarked for pre-tournament camping in the UAE. We have often failed to get our pre-tournament preparations right by selecting countries that do not have a similar climatical conditions to that of the venue countries for the competition. If I am not mistaken our camping venue replicates past mistakes and is sure not to be a beneficial factor for our campaign. And why should there be a vindictive turn around on the provision for the media? The GFA can not work without the media and the discerning public too relies on the reports emanating from the venue by the media so clearly some provision must be made.

What is most important is that the Ghana Black Stars end the African Cup of Nations 31 year drought. The victimization of the Ghanaian media and the public perception of corruption within the GFA is doing no one any favours. Whilst we all agree that the GFA is an autonomous organisation they have an obligation to ensure that the public property they manage; which is a national asset; must be done transparently with public accountability and not disdain or scorn. It is important that every statement being made is properly considered so as to ensure the general public are appropriately informed so that any misconceptions of arrogance and or corruption will not arise.