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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Columnist: Asubonteng, Bernard

Ghana needs Foreign President

If Black Stars need Foreign Coach, then Ghana needs Foreign President, too!

By—Bernard Asubonteng

It’s quite understandable that many Ghanaian soccer fans all over the world expressed their disappointment and anger when their national soccer team failed miserably to meet the teeming fans’ expectations in the just-ended 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In light of the miserable failure with its attendant comical theatrics that soaked up the entire Ghanaian soccer contingents in Brazil, it’s not surprising that a sizable number of Ghana soccer followers are calling for the overhaul of the Ghana FA, including the technical team.
As usual, a great deal of self-styled soccer pundits and some other genuinely disappointed fans are vehemently campaigning for the firing of Akwasi Appiah—who is Ghana-born head soccer coach—and replace him with a foreign (white?) coach to solve all Ghana’s soccer problems. True, Ghana gained its political independence over 50 years ago. Interestingly, though, if Ghana leaders mismanage the affairs of the nation (as they keep doing over and over again) resulting in socioeconomic hardships for the ordinary Ghanaians, no one talks about bringing in foreigners or the British to rule Ghana to set things straight. If the local coaches are not good enough for the national team, then a more powerfully logical case can also be made about bringing in foreign experts to lead Ghana or Africa!
It’s ironic that whenever things go contrary to expectations in the national soccer realm we hear the cacophonic sound of foreign coach, foreign coach! What about foreign rulers to rule Ghana or the continent as a whole since African leaders have messed up Africa? In other words, if many of us honestly want to understand the core of the problem with Ghana soccer or sports, they should start from the government, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the GFA. As we came to find out, almost all the Black Stars players’ complaints in Brazil were about their delayed financial reward. At any rate, who controls Ghana’s soccer funds? Is it the national team coach…just curious? On personal terms, I do not know the Black Stars’ head coach (Appiah); yet, it does not make it fair to use him as a sacrificial lamb for deep-seated problems which even predate his very existence. Let’s not forget, the best team in the 2014 tournament—Germany—beat all their opponents except Ghana en route to winning the Cup. This development strongly indicated that the Ghanaian coach was tactically effective and Ghana would have gone places if all the players had cultivated the right frame of mind without money drama.
Honestly, a fair assessment of the failed events that unfolded in Ghana soccer camp in Brazil had little to do with the technical bench or the head coach. In fact, Ghana has traveled this road many times before with expatriate coaches and the nation has not seen out-of-the-ordinary achievements in terms of international soccer trophies. The last most important international soccer trophy Ghana won was the U-20 FIFA World Cup held in Egypt. Incidentally, the team was coached by a Ghanaian named Sellas Tetteh. Arguably, it can be pointed out that probably the difference between the victorious U-20 team in 2009 and the make-up of the players that represented Ghana in Brazil was that the U-20s were more disciplined, ambitious, and determined to die a little for Ghanaian fans and not for Appearance fees, whereas some of the 2014 Black Stars (especially Mutari, KPB, Essien…) or the so-called senior players possibly have entirely different motivations other than national pride.
It is an open book that the reason Ghana is still struggling to develop in the midst of immense talents and resources is because of the pervasive mismanagement and corruption in all sectors of the society. Most Ghanaian officials are corrupt human parasites; sadly, this is nothing new. It is not to say that ordinary Ghanaians should look the other way while these corrupt practices keep happening around them.
Now, to the aggrieved Black Stars players who were in Brazil, it was puzzling that they could not wait but chose to advertise their grievances the way they did and in the process let their teeming fans down across the globe. For many of us, those players could have also realized that Ghana is bigger than all their personal interests or whatever genuine concerns they had. It was under this selfless consideration that should have led them to die a little bit more for mother Ghana and for the fans back home and beyond, with the clear conscience that they’re not playing for the corrupt Ghanaian officials but for the pride of their nation—Ghana! Already, there is a general (mis)perception in Europe and the other parts of the world that African players are indiscipline and lack respect for authority. Clearly, the behavior of some of the Ghanaian players during the 2014 World Cup might go to reinforce that belief.
Indeed money counts in this cruel world, but sometimes too human essence, dignity, and moral reputation trump money. No matter what, whenever historians worldwide begin talking about soccer, the names such as Pele, Maradona, Bobby Charlton, and the like, will be mentioned not because of how many fancy cars, mansions, or fat bank account they accumulated representing their respective nations but because of the positive impact they brought to bear on their national identities through soccer.
It is disturbing to hear some people argued that the senior players in the Black Stars camp, especially Muntari and co, did the right thing by assaulting the GFA official(s). What is the moral equivalence here? Let’s assume someone is financially or morally corrupt and you also allow violence or anger to corrupt your sense of reasoning in confronting the abuser, how better are you than the person? We get it. The corrupt Ghana officials should have paid the money in timely fashion; nonetheless, it did not justify violence or indiscipline actions on the part of some of the players at the expense of innocent Ghanaian soccer fans while the whole world was watching.
Let us end on this note: while all these senior players’ theatrics were unfolding in Brazil, some of us were curious to know what were the reactions of the less senior ones such as Ayew, Atsu, Jordan, Wakaso and so on? Keep in mind these are the talents who will carry the mettle of leadership of the Ghanaian soccer team in the near future. Hopefully, they were not willing accomplices or just sat on the fence and allowed the old-guards go down with them! Imagine Ghana had advanced to the semifinals; these young players’ market value would have shot to the roof. I wonder if some of the so-called senior players care about the younger ones’ future?

Bernard Asubonteng is a blogger and media analyst based in Atlanta, GA. He can be reached at asubonteng@globalpulpit.com or www.globalpulpit.com