Sports News of Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Source: Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah

Govt flies cash to pay Black Stars appearance fee

Amid an uneasy calm and fragile truce, the Black Stars have finally landed in Brasilia ahead of their must win World Cup Group G match against Portugal on Thursday.

Reports from the Ghanaian capital Accra indicates that a chartered flight carrying the cash is due to land in Brazil on Wednesday.

In all my years covering the Black Stars, I have never felt such an air of tension and potential explosion around players and officials. Yet I remain unconvinced that the stand-off is purely over money. There are demons that the FA officials must confront and deal with once and for all or live to regret it.

I do not think these fine players are so short sighted and so desperate that they would destroy what they are starting to build here in Brazil over money. I only pray that my gut feelings for once are wrong and this is just a phase of the drama we must all go through.

The team's arrival brought to a pause, a dramatic day in which Ghana's President Mahama is said to have called captain Asamoah Gyan by phone to promise that the players' appearance fees would be paid by Wednesday.

Players remained in their hotel rooms for close to two hours as they threatened to boycott a trip to Brasilia in protest of the non-payment of appearance fees.

Initially, the amount was thought to be $100,000 each but there are suggestions that the players have now agreed to $75,000.

Ghana will earn more than $9 million for qualification and participation in the first round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals and will get more should they reach the knockout stages of the competition on Thursday.

Government, players and team officials are well aware of this fact and that is what makes the ''No pay, No play'' stance of the players unfortunate but according to some sympathisers of the players, totally understandable.

''If it is true that they have not been paid then that is very sad'' was a remark by a guest at the plush Radisson Hotel in Maceio seeking a photo shot with Dede Ayew.

The ensuing media frenzy especially, but not isolated to the Ghanaian media was a curious revelation as some journalists naturally took full advantage to ''break'' the sensational news to their respective networks live on phone or television back home.

Accusations that some officials were actually goading a revolt by prompting journalists to interview players in their room cannot be substantiated.

In any case, the simmering crisis had been warded off for several days even by frustrated FA executives and coaches Appiah and Konadu who had to plead with the players to remain focused and disciplined.

Unfortunately the ''breaking news'' had filtered out even to fans outside the hotel who had lined up to say goodbye or grab autographs, guests leaving or arriving at the media.

An official of the Ghana FA explained that the delay in paying the players was out of their hands in Brazil as a result of a “misunderstanding about the mode of payment”.

The players had agreed to be paid through their banks but later changed their position insisting on physical cash even though that may carry some risks.

The Black Stars, like their opponents Portugal, have just a point so far in Group G and must win by at least two clear goals on Thursday and hope Germany beat the United States in the group's other match.

As one ''man of God'' blurted today, ''It is time for prayers to be intensified for the Black Stars''.

- Supersport reporter Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah at the Ghana Black Stars camp in Brasilia.